SACRAMENTO, CA – As MALDEF continues to challenge discriminatory practices across the country against individuals seeking employment under the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans program (DAPA) and DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), California Assemblymember David Chiu last week introduced AB 1065, a bill extending state-law employment protections against immigration-related discrimination, a bill that MALDEF sponsors.

AB 1065 would make it unlawful for an employer to request more or different documents than required under federal law in relation to verification of an individual's work authorization. Further, AB 1065 makes unlawful an employer's attempts to reinvestigate or recertify an incumbent employee's authorization to work unless required to do so by federal law or authority.

“This law will protect Californians from discrimination based on hostility toward immigrants or toward the programs, including DACA and DAPA, that provide them work authorization,” stated Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel. “While other states' leaders demonize and obstruct the Deferred Action program and its potential recipients, California can and should be a leader in ensuring that these longtime residents can contribute to the state's economic growth free of unfair discrimination.”

The new legislation will provide authority to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) to investigate and enforce this prohibition against unfair immigration-related employment practices. With the enactment of AB 1065, protections would be extended to all victims, including those unable to obtain legal representation to pursue a lawsuit.

“Our immigrant communities are drivers of our increasingly global economy,” said Assemblymember Chiu. “However, abuses that occur in our communities often go unchecked for fear of retribution or deportation. This legislation will improve protections for all Californians so that we can continue to work and contribute to our great state.”

Since 1986, federal law has prohibited certain unfair immigration-related employment practices, including “document abuse” as defined in 8 U.S.C. § 1324b(a)(6). However, these federal protections are enforced through a cumbersome administrative process involving the office of the Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices, followed by review by an administrative judge and potential review at the Court of Appeals.

The current provisions of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act define and prohibit various discriminatory employment practices. In 2013, California enacted labor protections against unfair immigration-related employment practices when it enacted section 1019 of the California Labor Code. While section 1019 provides strong protections against retaliation, it does not apply when unfair practices are undertaken for non-retaliatory purposes. In practice, initial applicants for employment, such as those protected under DAPA, are not protected under section 1019.

The text of the bill, AB 1065 can be viewed here.