WHD Ensuring Proper Wages in the Workplace

Meaningful Protection from Retaliation

Description of Idea :

Justice at Work urges the Department of Labor to commit to using a wide range of methods to protect survivors of trafficking from retaliation by their traffickers. Employers frequently—and credibly—use threats of deportation to keep workers from reporting workplace abuses. DOL should revisit, strengthen and fully implement its 2011 Revised MOU between the Departments of Homeland Security and Labor Concerning Enforcement Activities at Worksites, ensuring that immigration enforcement does not interfere with the enforcement of employment and labor rights. DOL should also utilize existing immigration protections to protect workers, including assistance with accessing immigration relief and benefits under the TVPA.

DOL should also ramp up its monitoring of the temporary visa program, including foreign labor recruiters, to prevent against retaliation and blacklisting, additional forms of coercion that traffickers frequently use. Because of the extreme power imbalance in the temporary work visa system, employers keep workers from reporting abuse by threatening not to bring them back in subsequent seasons, or to tell other employers they are "uncooperative" and keep them from getting any temporary visas in future years. Timely and substantive protection from retaliation will empower temporary visa holders to report workplace abuses to law enforcement.

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Idea No. 153