Immigration, Form I-9 and Work Visas: Washington
Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.
Author: Melissa A. Silver, XpertHR Legal Editor
- Seattle labor laws prohibit an employer from threatening an employee with immigration-related consequences because he or she exercises protections or rights. See Seattle Wage Theft Prevention and Harmonization Ordinance.
Seattle Wage Theft Prevention and Harmonization Ordinance
On December 17, 2015, Mayor Edward B. Murray signed an ordinance that harmonizes, among other things, enforcement procedures under Seattle's current labor laws addressing minimum wage, wage theft, paid sick and safe time and job assistance. Seattle, Washington Municipal Code Sec. 14.19.020, as amended by Ordinance 124960.
Under these laws, an employer is prohibited from threatening an employee with immigration-related consequences because the employee exercised protected rights. For a list of protected rights see Employee Discipline: Washington. Specifically, when an employee seeks to exercise protected rights, an employer may not imply or directly communicate its willingness to inform authorities regarding the employee's unlawful status in the US. In addition, an employer may not make an implied or express assertion that the suspected citizenship or immigration status of the employee or the employee's family members would be reported to authorities because that employee has exercised a protected right.
If an employee reports certain labor law violations, he or she may apply to the Seattle Office for Civil Rights for a nonimmigration status visa for himself or herself and family members as defined in +8 USCS § 1101 (a) (15) (U). See also U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website. The Director of the Office for Labor Standards within the Office for Civil Rights may certify eligible individuals for a U Visa, which are visas designated for individuals who are victims-witnesses of qualifying crimes who suffered mental or physical abuse and are helpful to government officials or law enforcement who are investigating or prosecuting criminal activity.
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