In recent times, with so many asylum seekers looking for employment in New York City, it's no surprise that workplace exploitation in certain jobs like construction, cleaning, and childcare is on the rise. This is why, on December 3, 2023, the New York City Council passed a landmark legislation for immigrant workers. The bill was first introduced by Brooklyn Council Member Shahana Hanif in May 2023 and requires multiple city departments as well as community and labor organizations, like the Department of Consumer and Worker Production (DCWP), the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA), the New York City Commission on Human Rights, and community and labor organizations selected by the commissioner of DCWP to create a workers' bill of rights.
The bill would detail the rights and protections workers are guaranteed under federal, state, and local laws regardless of their immigration status. This bill follows Gov. Kathy Hochul's announcement of a statewide initiative connecting asylum seekers who have obtained legal work authorization with employers willing to hire them. State lawmakers are also considering issuing a New York-specific work permit for those without federal work authorization. For now, all eyes are on the worker's bill of rights, which was returned unsigned by the mayor without a veto, meaning once it reaches the mayor's office and is signed, the bill will become law. Once signed into law, the bill will enforce the following:
- Identify federal, state, and local labor laws that provide protections to employees and independent contractors
- Provide information about employees' rights to form a union
- Explain that these rights apply regardless of immigration status
The agencies tasked with finalizing the bill are required to post the final draft of the document on the City's website no later than March 1, 2024. The final draft must be posted in English, the designated citywide languages, and specific temporary languages. Then, by July 1, 2024, all employers will be required to provide their current employees with a copy of the bill of rights. In the future, as new employees are brought on, employers will be required to distribute the workers' bill of rights on an employee's first day of work.
Employers covered under the bill will also be required to post the information at the employer's place of business in an area that is visible as well as accessible to their employees. Employers will also need to post the notice on their website or mobile applications and provide the bill of rights in English and the primary language spoken by at least 5% of employees. For now, the bill does not appear to mention whether it covers independent contractors.
However, while the law does not define which employers and employees are covered, it is believed that the bill covers those employers who currently employ workers who work within New York City's geographic boundaries. Any employer that fails to abide by the posting requirements will incur a $500 penalty and be given 30 days to rectify the violation following the first complaint filed against the employer.
Once signed into law, MOIA is expected to lead community outreach regarding the bill of rights. In their outreach efforts, they are expected to provide educational resources for employees, prospective employees, and independent contractors, including information on what to expect if immigration enforcement authorities come to an individual's workplace, federal eligibility requirements for temporary protected status, resources and contact information for immigration legal services and MOIA, and the contact information for the City's immigration legal hotline and the asylum application help center.
To learn more about the new bill passed in NYC regarding an employee bill of rights, or if your employer has denied you a bill of rights due to your immigration status, contact a Morgan & Morgan attorney today by completing our free, no-obligation case evaluation form.