Over the past several decades, there has been a tension between labor law and immigration law in the United States. That strain still exists for those employees who wish to assert their labor rights as well as those employers who seek to uphold the tenets of immigration policy. The March 9-10 Labor & Employment Law Conference in San Antonio, Texas will assess deterring employers from violating employees’ rights; how employers and employees can uphold the humanitarian values behind both labor and immigration policies; and ways to thwart labor rights abuses specific to undocumented workers.

In 2014, there were approximately 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants in the United States. An estimated 8.1 million of those immigrants were employed. “Hot Topics in the Intersection of Immigration and Employment Law” is a seminar in collaboration with the Immigration Law Section of the Federal Bar Association not to be missed! Sign up today at http://www.fedbar.org/labor17 to take advantage of early bird registration rates. Irene Steffas of Steffas & Associates, P.C. will moderate the session on federal laws that protect workers against discrimination based on immigration or citizenship status with Betty Stevens (Assistant Director, Office of Immigration Litigation, U.S. Department of Justice) and David A.M. Ware (Partner, Ware Immigration).

Although employers are generally aware of the consequences of labor laws, they are not always as mindful of immigration rules. Over the history of the United States, immigration has been a popular topic in Congressional legislation. Businesses operating in the United States should be conscious of how adverse employment actions can be severe for both the employer and its foreign national employees.

The United States Constitution delegates immigration and naturalization policy to the federal government. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) is a federal law covering almost all immigration matters. It protects individuals from employment discrimination based on immigration or citizenship status, and prohibits document abuse discrimination, which occurs when employers request more or different documents than are required to verify employment eligibility and identity.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination “based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin” during the course of hiring and firing while other federal laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of age and disability. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, national origin discrimination extends to employees and applicants for employment in the United States, regardless of their authorization to work, citizenship or immigration status. As such, undocumented workers, with a few exceptions, may be entitled to the same protections and relief as documented workers under federal anti-discrimination laws.

There is no question significant changes are afoot when it comes to immigration policy and labor law. The Federal Bar Association’s March 9-10 Labor & Employment Law Conference will provide attendees with a comprehensive analysis on office issues regarding the integration of labor, benefits, and immigration in order to meet the complexities of today’s political, business, and employment environment.

Stacy Slotnick, Esq. holds a J.D., cum laude, from Touro Law Center and a B.A., summa cum laude, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She performs a broad range of duties as an entertainment lawyer, including drafting and negotiating contracts; addressing and litigating trademark, copyright, patent, and other IP issues; and directing the strategy and implementation of public relations, blogging, and social media campaigns.