October 20, 2017

California Requires Employers to Have “Sanctuary” Worksites

Expanding California’s efforts to not cooperate with federal immigration authorities, Assembly Bill 450 imposes new requirements on employers when responding to government immigration worksite enforcement actions.

The new law bars employers from allowing immigration enforcement agents to enter any nonpublic areas of the employer’s workplace without a judicial warrant. 

Additionally, employers may not allow immigration enforcement agents to access, review, or obtain an employer’s employee records without a subpoena or court order for such records (with the exception of the I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification Form or other documents for which a Notice of Inspection has been provided to the employer). 

The new law also requires that employers: (1) post notice of any immigration agency inspections of I-9 forms or other employment records within 72 hours of the employer receiving notice of the inspection (on a template to be developed by the Labor Commissioner); and (2) provide to any affected employee and the employee’s bargaining representative, within 72 hours of receipt by the employer, a copy of the written immigration agency notice containing the results of the inspection of an I-9 form or other employment records. 

Finally, the law prohibits employers from re-verifying the employment eligibility of a current employee at a time or in a manner not required by specified federal law.

Practical Implications

This new law places California employers in the middle of a political dispute about how federal immigration laws should be enforced, which is likely to be challenged in court under federal preemption principles. In the meantime, management employees who control access to worksites need to be made aware of the new law, with a plan in place about how to respond to requests for worksite or records access by immigration officials.