New California Laws Prohibiting Employers from Firing Undocumented Workers Engaging in Protected ActivityA new law signed by California Governor Jerry Brown (Assembly Bill No. 2751 )  amends California’s recently-signed law prohibiting employers from retaliating against undocumented workers who engage in protected activity.

The new law softens employers’  ability to take disciplinary action against employees who had misrepresented their personal information, including their criminal history and immigration status. Assembly Bill 263 was recently signed inot law, making it illegal under California law for employers to target an employee’s immigration status, i.e., by threatening to contact immigration authorities, simply because the employee exercises a right protected under the state labor code or a local ordinance applicable to employees, for example, filing a complaint for unpaid wages.  AB 263 also prohibits employees from taking any adverse action against an employee attempting to update their personal information, which was aimed at protecting workers who notified their employers about changes to their work authorization status or criminal history.

The new amendment limits the application of AB 263, protecting only employees who attempt to update their personal information “based on a lawful change of name, social security number, or federal employment authorization document.” The amendment provides employers with greater flexibility in disciplining or terminating employees who make false statements separate and apart from their immigration status, but continues to restrict their ability to take action against workers who update their records based on lawful changes to immigration-related information and documents.

California employment laws are some of the most complicated in the nation. Every year, many thousands of claims and lawsuits are brought by employees who alleged to have been not properly paid wages, were wrongfully terminated, harassed, retaliated against, discriminated against, or otherwise unlawfully treated at work.