You are here

Employment information for Undocumented Workers

Produced by Lydia Edwards, Director of Legal Services Brazilian Immigrant Center, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, Neighborhood Legal Services
Last Updated January 2016

If I do not have a green card, a work permit, work papers or work authorization do the wage laws protect me?

Yes! Wage laws cover all workers. Your immigration status does not make a difference. If an employer hires you to work, he or she must follow wage laws.

If my employer owes me money can I get it?

You may be able to get the money your employer owes you. Call the Massachusetts Attorney General's Fair Labor Hotline (617) 727-3465.

What can I do if my employer is breaking the law?

If your employer breaks the law, call the Massachusetts Attorney General's Fair Labor Hotline (617) 727-3465.

Does Massachusetts Attorney General share information with the Immigration Service?

Do not be afraid to file a complaint against your employer. The Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General will not share information with the US Immigration and Naturalization Service (ICE). They have no ties to the ICE. The Attorney General wants to hear from undocumented workers who have complaints.

Should I go to the Department of Labor or the Attorney General’s Office?

You have two wonderful resources if you are not paid according to the law,

  1. the Attorney General’s office and
  2. the Department of Labor.

Attorney General

When you file with the Attorney General’s office, your employer will learn you made a complaint. That does not mean your employer is allowed to get back at you in any way. 

It is unlawful for any employer to get back at an employee for making a complaint to the Department of Labor or the Attorney General.

Department of Labor

The Department of labor enforces federal minimum wage and overtime laws. Many people prefer going to the Department of labor because the DOL does not tell your employer you made a complaint. Your complaint is “anonymous.” You may feel more comfortable working for your employer if he or she does not know you complained. Many people will report violations while they continue to work for their employer. 

Do I get federal minimum wage or state minimum wage when I go to the Department of Labor?

If the DOL finds that you are owed minimum wage and overtime, they will make your employer pay the Massachusetts $10/hour minimum wage.

Who can go to the Department of labor?

Anyone, who feels they were not paid correctly, can call the Department of Labor. But the Department of Labor cannot help all workers.  Usually the Department of Labor can only investigate for workers that work for companies that

  • have 50 workers or more or
  • who have offices or do business in more than one state.

Find Legal Aid

You may be able to get free legal help from your local legal aid program. Or email a question about your own legal problem to a lawyer.

Ask a Law Librarian

If it's
Monday-Friday
between
9am and 4pm