Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP

Labor Dept. Establishes Interagency Working Group on Worker Protections


The Department of Labor recently announced the creation of an interagency working group to identify policies and procedures that promote the consistent enforcement of federal labor, employment, and immigration laws to “protect all workers in the U.S.” The announcement notes that federal agencies responsible for worker protections seek to protect all workers from exploitation and workers’ rights violations, regardless of immigration status. “Many workers, however, are deterred or prevented from asserting workplace rights and protections. In some cases, employers may exploit immigration status to deter employees from asserting their rights. In other cases, the protections available to workers are unclear,” the announcement notes.

The working group will comprise federal immigration enforcement agencies and federal agencies responsible for worker protections, including the Departments of Labor, Homeland Security, and Justice; the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; and the National Labor Relations Board.

The working group will seek to:

  • Ensure that agencies’ immigration enforcement and worker protection policies promote workers’ cooperation with labor and employment law enforcement authorities without fear of retaliation;
  • Ensure that federal enforcement authorities are not used by parties seeking to undermine worker protection laws by enmeshing immigration authorities in labor disputes; and,
  • Ensure the consistent enforcement of federal labor, employment, and immigration laws.

To achieve these objectives the working group will:

  • Develop policies and procedures to ensure consistent enforcement of labor, employment, and immigration laws;
  • Develop consistent standards and procedures for immigration agencies to contact labor agencies when they encounter a potential labor dispute within the meaning of the Revised Memorandum of Understanding between the Departments of Homeland Security and Labor Concerning Enforcement Activities at Worksites, executed on December 7, 2011;
  • Provide greater clarity to workers, worker representatives, advocates, and employers regarding processes and procedures on the intersection between immigration law enforcement and labor and employment law enforcement;
  • Strengthen processes for staying the removal of, and providing temporary work authorization for, undocumented workers asserting workplace claims and for cases in which a workplace investigation or proceeding is ongoing; and
  • Provide stakeholders open and transparent modes of communication with enforcement authorities.
  • The working group “will provide opportunities for communication with external stakeholders, including workers, worker representatives, advocates, and employers as appropriate.”

The fact sheet is available at http://www.dol.gov/dol/fact-sheet/immigration/interagency-working-group.htm.

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