Worker Rights

The Filipino Migrant Center defends workers rights. We provide free know your rights in the work place trainings, programs, legal and health clinics and one-on-one consultations to Filipino workers. We work in partnership with lawyers who volunteer their time to provide free legal consultations through FMC. If you would like more information about our work, or sent an appointment, contact Joy at or (562) 438-9515

All workers in California are protected by labor laws, including State minimum wage, protection from discrimination and retaliation, workers comp, and health and safety regardless of immigration status.”

KYR in Workplace Raids”


Wage Theft & Wage and Hour LawWhat is Wage Theft?

Wage Theft is the act of an employer stealing wages from its workers by not paying workers according to the law.

Wage theft is any of the following:

  • Denied the current minimum wage ($9/hour, 2015), ($10/hour, Jan 2016)
  • Denied overtime pay
  • Denied rest/meal breaks
  • Misclassified as independent contractor
  • Illegal deductions from paycheck
  • Not receiving your tips
  • Not paid at all

LB Wage Theft Comic - English Version

Tagalog - Wage Theft Comic

What are some basics of Wage and Hour Law?

  • Minimum Wage: All California residents who work should be paid, at least $9 an hour (goes up to $10 on January 1, 2016). If your city has a higher minimum wage you should be paid that.
  • Overtime: Most California workers are entitled to overtime pay if they work more than 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week. See below for common exceptions.
    • First 8 hours in a workday: normal wage
    • Hours 8-12 in a work day: time and a half
    • Over 40 hours a week: time and a half
    • Hours 12+ in the same workday: double time
    • Hours over 8 hours on a 7th consecutive day workday: double time
  • Exceptions to Overtime
    • “Exempt” employees (ex: professionals, white collar administrative, business)
    • One-on-One Caregivers (personal attendants):
      • First 9 hours in a workday: Normal Wage
      • Hours 9+ in a workday: time and a half
      • First 45 hours in a week: Normal Wage
      • Over 45 hours in a week: time and half
  • Meal and Rest Breaks: Most California Employees are entitled to Meal and Rest Breaks. One-on-One caregivers and personal attendants are not eligible to claim for breaks.
    • Meal Break: For every 5 hours worked, minimum of a 30 minimum break from work. Break must be uninterrupted & you are not on-call, you can leave your job site, unpaid break. Your employer must keep accurate records of your meal breaks
      • You can claim 1 hour pay for every day there is a violation
    • Rest Break: For every major fraction (2 hours+) of four hours worked, you are entitled to a 10 break. Break must be uninterrupted, paid, and not on-call.
      • You can claim 1 hour pay for every day there is a violation

I think i’m a victim of Wage Theft, What can I do?

In the state of California you can file a wage claim in the California Department of Labor Standard Enforcement (DLSE) to recover your unpaid wages, illegal deductions, denial of breaks, or unpaid overtime. You must file your claim in the closest California DLSE office based on the city of your employment. To learn where the closest DLSE office to you is check here.

You do not need a Social Security Number to file a wage claim in the California Department of Labor. For more info on how to file a wage claim.

If you have questions on filing a wage claim or if you think you may be a victim of wage theft and want to learn more about your rights. Please contact Joy at or (562) 438-9515 or by clicking here

Basic Protections in the Workplace 

Protection against discrimination by your Employer

  • California, like most states are “at-will” so can hire/fire for any reason unless there is exception, such as action based on discrimination
  • Several Bases for Discrimination (CA):
    • Religion
    • Sexuality
    • Sex
    • Gender Identity
    • Pregnancy
    • Military Status
    • Marital Status
    • Disability
    • Age
    • National Origin (Ancestry) & Race (color)
      • Discrimination based on country of origin or on immigration status
      • Language Discrimination: If you can’t speak your native language but other workers can speak their native language

Paystubs and Timesheets

As an employee you should always keep a separate and private record of your hours worked and responsibilities, especially if your employer forces you to sign documents that aren’t true. The personal record should be separate from any record your employer keeps and should also include:

  • Hours work each day
  • Responsibilities each day
  • Pay dates and wages paid each week
  • Receipts of all paychecks, photocopies of paychecks or handwritten records of cash paid
  • Names and numbers of coworkers
  • Anything that makes you feel uncomfortable
  • Any promises made by your employer

Having this separate record is strong evidence should you decide to report a labor law violation, discrimination claim, file for unpaid wages, or as protection against anything your employer may say. 

Your employer must issue you a paystub that list out:

  • gross wages earned
  • total hours worked, except for employees whose compensation is solely based on salary and who are exempt from payment of overtime
  • all deductions that have been authorized in writing by the employee
  • net wages earned
  • inclusive dates of pay period;
  • name and social security or ITIN number of the employee
  • name and address of the employer

Protection against Retaliation from your Employer


  • In the state of California, you have the right to file a wage and hour claims, attend a KYR presentation, speak out about problems in workplace, refuse to carry out a directive he/she believes to be discriminatory, about about your meal and rest breaks (if eligible)
  • There are updated laws in California that have increased penalties for employer retaliation (for example: Suspension of license of operation for employer if they report or threat to report employee’s immigration status, or that of family member).
  • The laws also protect from attorneys of employers who threaten worker or family members.

To file or report of labor law violation. You don’t have to identify yourself to make a report of a labor law violation but it does help investigators be able to follow-up with you. They will not tell your employer that it was you who made the report. You can also report a labor law violation you observe as a customer or client of a business.

To file a retaliation complaint if you were fired, demoted, had your hours cut, or were punished after reporting a labor law violations or workplace safety hazards

You do not need a social security number to report a violation.

If you have questions about filing a retaliation complaint or reporting a labor law violation we can assist you.  For questions or to set an appointment contact us at or (562) 438-9515 or by clicking here

Human Trafficking

US Federal Immigration Law Trafficking Victims Protection recognizes two kinds of trafficking in persons:

Labor trafficking: recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of involuntary servitude, peonage, debt

Sex trafficking: recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act where the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or the person being induced to perform such act is under 18 years of age.

What does US Immigration give to victims of Trafficking?

US Immigration issues a special visa called the T-Visa to victims of severe forms of trafficking present in the United States who will face hardship, if they return to their home countries.

Signs of Possible Trafficking:

  • People not knowing the location of their documents
  • Restricted Movement and/or communication
  • Forced to work a job outside their contract
  • Huge debt from coming to the USA to work
  • Employer threatens to deport you or hurt you if you say anything about your work.
  • Your family is threatened back home or your employer threatens to hurt your family
  • Someone is scared to speak out about working conditions
  • Barbed Wire around buildings or buildings where people enter but don’t exit

The Filipino Migrant Center works with community organizations and legal partners to help Filipino trafficking survivors. If this sounds like something that happened to you or someone you know or you would like to know more contact us to set up an appointment at or (562) 438-9515 or by clicking here

Support Us