top of page

Whistleblower Disputes TOOLKIT

Campaigning for Protections for Immigrant Whistleblowers and Undocumented Workers engaged in labor disputes or cooperating with enforcement agencies

Resources for Reporting Labor Violations & Seeking Legal Assistance

Immigrant workers without documentation who cooperate with state or federal agencies to identify and prosecute labor violations may be eligible for deferred action. This means that they can request temporary protection from deportation and receive work authorization.

Representatives: Use the information below to identify the appropriate agency to assist with a particular labor dispute and to find guidance on requesting certifications in support of applications for U Nonimmigrant Status and Nonimmigrant Status visas from that agency.


Workers: Use the information below to find out where you can report labor violations. If possible, consult an attorney first.


Advocates: Join CHRCL in building a network of agencies, officials, and representatives working to protect immigrant workers.

U.S. Department of Labor

Frequently Asked Questions issued by the Department of Labor (DOL) on July 6, 2022, which can be accessed here. The DOL advised that these FAQs are applicable to these divisions of the Department:

  • 1. Wage & Hour Division (WHD): The WHD enforces

    • a. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which establishes employment standards and regulations to protect workers in both the private and public sector, including minimum wage, limits on child labor;

    • b. Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA),

    • c. Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSPA) which protects migrant and seasonal workers by establishing employment standards related to wages, houses, transportation, disclosures, and record keeping, and enforcing H-2A standards.

    • d. Field Sanitation Provisions of OSHA, that provide standards in agriculture for toilets, potable drinking water, hand-washing facilities.

    • e. WHD has the power to issue U and T Visa certifications, as provided here.

  • 2. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), enforces the Occupational Safety and Health Act and adopts regulations to set enforcement policy, engages in targeted inspection programs, responds to fatalities, catastrophes, and complaints. OSHA covers most private sector employers and their workers and some public sector employers and workers in the 50 states and some territories.

  • 3. Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) holds those who do business with the federal governments as contractors or subcontractors responsible for complying with the legal requirement to take affirmative action and not discriminate based on race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, national origin, disability, or status as a protected veteran. These contractors are barred from discharging or discriminating against applicants or employees who inquire about, discuss or disclose their compensation to others.

  • 4. Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) enforces the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA) to ensure basic standards of union democracy and labor management transparency.


Memorandum dated February 13, 2023, issued by DOL Sec. of Labor Marty Walsh gives OSHA the authority to issue certifications in support of applications for U Nonimmigrant Status and Nonimmigrant Status visas, which can be accessed here. The Wage and Hour Division already had such authority.


Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

  • Frequently Asked Questions issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on February 22, 2023, explain the process for an individual to secure a Statement of Interest/Letter of Support from the EEOC, which can be accessed here.  In some cases it is not necessary to file an EEOC charge.

  • The EEOC enforces Title VII which bars discrimination in employment based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, transgender status, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. It also enforces the Americans with Disabilities Act, Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Equal Pay Act, and Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

National Labor Relations Board

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is an independent​ federal agency with the power to safeguard employees’ rights to organize, engage with others to seek better conditions, decide whether to have union representation, and prosecutes those who violate those rights by committing unfair labor practices as defined by the National Labor Relations Act. The NLRB’s General Counsel Jennifer A. Abruzzo is charged with prosecuting employers who violate those rights, and has taken affirmative steps to provide immigration protection to undocumented and other vulnerable noncitizens, as set forth below, including creating a process for workers and their representatives request a Statement of Support from their local Regional Director. Relevant documents include:

  • i. General Counsel Abruzzo issued Memo GC 22-01, dated November 8, 2021, entitled Ensuring Rights and Remedies for Immigrant Workers Under the NLRA, can be accessed here. It refers to DHS Secretary Alejandro Policy Statement of Oct. 12, 2021, and based on that “upon request by a charging party or witness, the NLRB will seek immigration relief, including deferred action, continued presence, U or T status, a stay of removal, or other relief as available and appropriate, to protect these workers in the exercise of their statutory rights. It also states that individuals or their representatives can indicate the need for such relief to the NLRB Regional Office involved or to the NLRB’s Immigration Team. It also states that the NLRB will continue to certify requests for U and T petitions for individuals who have been helpful to NLRB investigation or litigation and have suffered harm as a victim of a qualifying crime.

  • ii. Asst. General Counsel Sullivan issued Operations Management(OM) Memo 22-09, dated May 2, 2022, entitled Ensuring Safe and Dignified Access for Immigrant Workers to NLRB Processes. This can be accessed here. It provides a fact sheet for immigrant witnesses in Spanish and English, and explains that NLRB agents will explain that their immigration status is not relevant to its investigation, that they will not ask workers about their status, and that if the charged party engages in conduct relating to immigration or work authorization status which threatens to undermine the Board’s work, the NLRB’s Immigration Team must be notified.

  • iii. Gen. Counsel Abruzzo issued Memo GC 21-07 on Sept. 15, 2021, entitled Full Remedies in Settlement Agreements, which can be accessed at this link. This provides that it is crucial in cases involving immigrant workers that the NLRB seek settlement agreements with all possible remedies to ensure that these employees are provided the fullest relief. For example, if the employer’s unfair labor practice causes the loss of an employee’s work authorization, that they seek at the very least a provision requiring the employer to sponsor the affected employee on a non-immigrant visa, and reimburse the employee for legal fees, application fees, and travel costs that the affected employee may incur in seeking to regain a lost work authorization. Additionally, where an employer misused the E-Verify system in an unlawfully discriminatory manner, the Region should require a DOJ training of all its managers and supervisors.

  • iv. NLRB’s Guidance on Immigrant Worker Rights, explaining that it protects the rights of employees regardless of immigration status can be accessed here.

    • 1. It states that where there is an ongoing NLRB investigation or enforcement action at a worksite, and the immigrant worker or their representatives tells the NLRB agent that immigration relief is necessary at that worksite to protect workers who are, or may be willing to cooperate with the NLRB’s investigation or enforcement action, but who may fear for doing so, they can make a request that the NLRB issue a Statement of Interest, which employees can use in requesting deferred action from the DHS. Requests to the NLRB for a Statement of Interest for a particular worksite should be directed to any of the following: (1) NLRB agent investigating the case; (2) the Immigration Coordinator in the Region; (3) the Regional Director; or (4) the NLRB Immigration Team in Washington DC (, including the NLRB case number, worksite location, and the employer’s name.

    • 2. It further states that the NLRB will also consider completing U visa and T visa certifications in appropriate cases, and these should be directed to the NLRB Immigration Team (

  • v. NLRB Operations Management (OM) Memo 11-62, dated June 7, 2011, by Associate General Counsel Richard Siegel, entitled “Updated Procedures in Addressing Immigration Status Issues that Arise During NLRB Proceedings,” can be accessed here. It notes that where immigration status is one of particular significance, the NLRB may ask DHS’s subagencies (USCIS, ICE, CBP) for U or T visa remedies, or “favorably exercise discretion in order to assist the NLRB in the enforcement of the NLRA”, deferring immigration actions during the pendency of the NLRB proceeding, and/or releasing individuals from custody or providing access to witnesses in custody. This can be accessed here.

  • vi. NLRB General Counsel Memo GC 02-06, entitled Procedures and Remedies for Discriminates Who May be Undocumented Aliens after Hoffman Plastic Compounds, Inc.

  • vii. NLRB Notice entitled: Important Information About NLRB Investigations for Immigrant Workers (English) can be accessed here. The Spanish version can be accessed here.

  • viii. NLRB Know Your Workplace Rights: Immigrant Workers, which states that: (1) immigrants are protected under the NLRA regardless of immigrant status, (2) that the NLRB will not ask them about their immigration status, (3) that the NLRB will not share information with the DHS or ICE, unless they ask it to as part of a request for relief, and (4) that if they tell the NLRB there is a need for protection at a worksite, it may be able to provide documentation to assist them in applying for deferred action or other relief. The card in English can be accessed here.

  • ix. NLRB maintains a Spanish-language website, which can be accessed here.

  • x. NLRB also has foreign language: (1) NLRB informational pamphlets in Spanish, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Korean, Russian, Somali, and Vietnamese; (2) one page Immigrant Employee Rights in Spanish, Arabic, Haitian Creole, Korean, Polish, Russian, Tagalog, and Vietnamese ; and (3) EEOC Fact Sheet: Retaliation Based on Exercise of Workplace Rights Is Unlawful in Arabic, Haitian Creole, French, Hindi, Hmong, Korean, Chinese, Portuguese, Punjab, Russian, Tagalog, Urdu, and Vietnamese. These publications can be accessed here.


California Department of Industrial Relations

CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS. The Department Director is Katie Hagen, and she oversees the work related agencies including the following, which have issued Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) in response to the DHS guidance of January 13, 2023, explaining how immigrant workers and their representatives can obtain a Statement of Support for the purpose of obtaining deferred action status, a work permit, or other immigration relief.

  • i. California Labor Commissioner’s Office (LCO), also known as the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), is led by Commissioner Lilia Garcia-Brower is responsible for enforcing labor laws, combatting wage theft, protecting workers from retaliation.

    • 1. LCO/DLSE has issued Frequently Asked Questions on LCO’s Role in Supporting Immigration-Related Prosecutorial Discretion, which can be accessed in English here, and in Spanish here.

    • 2. The LCO/DLSE handles claims filed in its office, and also maintains a Bureau of Field Enforcement (BOFE) which conducts field investigations of civil and criminal violations of state law affecting groups of workers, including workers compensation fraud, child labor, cash pay, minimum wage and overtime claims. BOFE also has a Public Works Unit that investigates and enforces prevailing wage rates for public construction projects.

    • 3. The LCO/DLSE is part of a Labor Employment Task Force (LETF), a coalition of State enforcement agencies that work with local agencies to combat the underground economy, including failure to pay wages and to provide safe and healthy workplaces. LETF has produced an 8 page pamphlet (printable and available for mobile phones) for workers in both English (here) and Spanish (here), which covers such issues as these: (a) rest and meal breaks; (b) minimum wage and overtime; (c) safe and healthy jobs; (d) how to take action without being punished; and (f) benefits in case of injury or unemployment.

  • ii. California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH or Cal/OSHA). It conducts inspections and issues citations for hazards and unsafe conditions impacting millions of employees.

    • 1. Cal/OSHA issued its Frequently Asked Questions on Cal/OSHA’s Role in Supporting Immigration-Related Prosecutorial Discretion, which can be accessed here for the English, and here for the Spanish. If a worker believes Cal/OSHA has an active inspection or appeal pending with their employer, they can send a request to with the subject line “Request for Submission of Statement of Interest.” A request may be made by a worker, advocate, or rep and can be for a group of workers.

California Agricultural Relations Board

CALIFORNIA AGRICULTURAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD (ALRB) protects the rights of agricultural employees to engage in collective action, with or without a union, to improve their wages and conditions of employment.

  • i. Workers or their advocates can file unfair labor practice charges with the ALRB if they believe their employer has engaged in unlawful conduct. The charges will be investigated by the General Counsel who may issue a Complaint, triggering a hearing before an ALJ, and a final decision by the Board. The ALRB also conducts elections enabling workers to vote on whether to be represented by a union.

  • ii. The ALRB issued Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on ALRB’s Role in Supporting Immigration-Related Prosecutorial Discretion, which can be accessed here. The ALRB posted FAQs regarding its support of workers in the deferred action process, which can be found here for the English and here for the Spanish.

California Civil Rights Department

CALIFORNIA CIVIL RIGHTS DEPARTMENT (CRD) enforces state laws that apply to all business practices, including advertisements, applications, hiring, transferring, promoting terminating, layoffs, working conditions, compensation, participation in training or apprenticeship programs, employee organizations, or unions. Among the statutes it enforces are the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). To date, it has not issued any guidance on how workers or their advocates on the CRD’s role in supporting immigration-related prosecutorial discretion.

bottom of page