New York City has released new guidelines indicating that calling someone an “illegal alien” or “illegal,” when used with the intent to “demean, humiliate, or harass a person” is illegal under the law. The guidelines also state “harassing or discriminating against someone for their use of another language or their limited English proficiency and threatening to call ICE on a person based on a discriminatory motive, are considered to be in violation” of the New York City Human Rights Law.
The new guidelines have expanded the protections available to New York City workers. When affected workers face unlawful work conditions or “ICE threats” by their employers, they are encouraged to report them. Those found in violation of the law can be fined up to $250,000.
In the workplace, many employers subject workers who they know or believe are undocumented or of a different national origin to unlawful, discriminatory work conditions. Some of these unlawful conditions include not paying employees at the minimum wage and overtime rates, prohibiting an employee from speaking their native language at work, refusing a perceived undocumented employees to take breaks during a 12 hour-shift while other employees are allowed breaks and not hiring a prospective employee because of their accent, assuming they are undocumented.
The National Immigration Law Center applauded the new guidelines, stating, “At a time when hateful political rhetoric is endangering a climate where private employers and landlords are increasingly discriminating against immigrant workers and tenants on the basis of their status, these kinds of actions are urgently needed.”