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December 27, 2018


Madigan Issues Guidance to Increase Awareness of State and Federal Laws Governing Immigration and Employment

Chicago — Attorney General Lisa Madigan today released guidance on the impact of immigration status on employees’ rights in the workplace. Recent policy debates and court cases regarding changes to federal immigration programs have left many employees and employers in Illinois with questions about workers’ rights and obligations under federal immigration law, state and federal workplace laws, and the intersection between the two.

Madigan’s office drafted and issued Guidance for Illinois Residents: Impact of Immigration Status on Employees’ Rights in the Workplace as a resource for Illinois employers and employees in order to detail the obligations of employers under the Immigration and Nationality Act as well as the protections afforded to authorized and unauthorized employees under state and federal wage and hour and anti-discrimination laws, among others.

“I encourage employers and workers across Illinois to use this guidance when assessing policies and practices regarding federal immigration law and its impact on employment status,” Madigan said. “With confusion that results from the many recent changes to immigration policies and laws, this guidance will assist employers and workers alike as they navigate current workplace issues.”

According to the Guidance, federal law requires employers to verify every employee’s authorization to work in the U.S. by asking for certain documentation at the time of hire and to re-verify if the work authorization document presented is set to expire. However, Madigan’s office reminds Illinois workers that, once hired, all employees – regardless of immigration status or employment authorization – have certain legal rights. These rights include:

  • The right to be paid at least the hourly minimum wage for all hours worked. The minimum wage in Illinois is $8.25 an hour and $11 an hour in the city of Chicago.
  • Most hourly employees, such as workers in retail, restaurant, construction, landscaping, childcare or home health care industries, have the right to be paid overtime (1.5 times an employee’s normal hourly rate) for any hours worked over 40 in a work week.
  • The right to a safe and healthy workplace.
  • The right to join a workers’ center or union
  • The right to be free from discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, sexual orientation or pregnancy in the workplace.

Employers cannot treat employees who have a valid work permit or lawful permanent residence through a green card differently on the basis of their immigration status or fire or refuse to hire them on that basis. Employers also cannot ask for documents of certain employees and not others. For example, an employer who only asks employees of Latino descent or ancestry to provide work authorization could be in engaging in discrimination on the basis of citizenship status or national origin.

Madigan also has issued a “Know Your Rights” awareness campaign to provide guidance to members of immigrant communities, consulates and non-profit organizations to help immigrants living in Illinois to understand their rights and responsibilities when interacting with law enforcement. The Know Your Rights pocket guide and other materials can be found on Madigan’s website.

Employees who believe their employment rights or civil rights have been violated may contact Madigan’s Workplace Rights Bureau at 1-844-740-5076 or her Civil Rights Hotline at 1-877-581-3692 with questions or concerns. Madigan’s guidance also includes contact information for other relevant state and federal agencies and community resources for employees.

The mission of Madigan’s Workplace Rights Bureau is to protect and advance the employment rights of Illinois residents, particularly low and moderate-income and immigrant residents.

Madigan’s employment guidance can be downloaded and printed here. A translated version in Spanish can be found here.


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