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As an immigrant, are you protected during employment disputes?

When you work in Minnesota or anywhere else in the U.S., you have certain rights. These rights, including a fair wage and protection from discrimination, are present regardless of your immigration status, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. When you feel that your rights are violated, you can fight back without the fear of retaliation. However, many immigrants are kept in fear that they will be deported or otherwise punished if they voice their concerns at work.

If you are a temporary worker authorized to work in the U.S. under one of the nonimmigrant visa programs, such as the H-1B, H-2A and H-2B, you have protection under the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division. This means you can file a complaint without fear of any retaliation, including discharge, coerce, threats and other acts of intimidation. You also might be entitled to back pay for work you missed.

As an immigrant, even if you do not have work authorization, you are protected under the National Labor Relations Act. However, you will face certain limitations if you have been unlawfully fired. One of those limitations is the inability to collect back pay for lost future income. However, you are legally entitled to wages for hours that you did work, up to the time of the termination.

In addition to these safeguards, you also have protection under the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act from discrimination based on a variety of factors beyond just immigration status, including nation of origin, gender, religion, sex, race, sexual orientation, age, disability, gender identity and more. It also shelters you from retaliation for complaining about any of these issues. You are also protected if you are involved in any disputes arising from any violations of rights granted under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

As an immigrant, you are protected in a similar way to any citizen or legal resident of the U.S. when it comes to retaliation due to employment disputes. You just might not be qualified for certain types of compensation based on your work authorization. This is general information only and is not intended to provide legal advice.

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