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Ruiz, McKnight Bill Penalizing Employers for Disclosing or Threatening to Disclose a Worker’s Immigration Status to Further Violate the Law Passes Senate

Trenton – The Senate advanced legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz and Senator Angela McKnight that protects workers’ rights, regardless of their immigration status, deters exploitation, and encourages reporting work site violations by penalizing employers threaten to disclose an employee’s immigration status in furtherance of violating the state’s wage, benefit, or tax laws.

“No worker should be forced to turn a blind eye to their employer’s unlawful behavior out of fear of being prosecuted for their immigration status,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex/Hudson). “By establishing a penalty for employers who weaponized an employee’s immigration status against them to violate the law, we can protect worker’s rights and hold businesses accountable for exploitative behavior.”

The bill, S-2869, imposes a civil penalty on any employer that disclosed, or threatens to disclose, an employee’s immigration status to a public body for the purpose of concealing any violation of the state wage, benefit, and tax laws.

For example, an employer who does not pay appropriate wages would be subject to penalties under the wage payment law. If the employer who fails to pay appropriate wages also threatens an employee based on the employee’s immigration status to pressure the employee from reporting the violation, the employer would be subject to additional penalties under the bill.

“All employees, regardless of immigration status, deserve the right to a safe and fair work environment,” said Senator McKnight (D-Hudson). “This bill will discourage businesses from behaving unethically and will impose penalties for those found to have violated the law.”

The bill would protect all workers from a variety of statuses including those that only have work authorization, work visas, and others.

The bill was approved by the Senate in a 34-0 vote.