New Haven state Sen. Gary Holder-Winfield spent May Day, the international workers holiday, at work—shepherding to passage a bill to protect workers’ rights.
Immigrant workers’ rights, to be specific.
Holder-Winfield, who co-chairs the state legislature’s Labor and Public Employees Committee, led the charge for Senate Bill 371, “An Act Concerning Retaliation Against Immigrant Workers.” It passed the Senate unanimously on Thursday. it now heads to the state House of Representatives.
The bill would give immigrant employees recourse if their boss retaliates against them for speaking up about labor law violations. It would allow the labor commissioner to fine an employer found to have retaliated $500 for a first violation, $1,000 for each subsequent violation. And it would double damages awards, and allow for recovery of “court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees,” in civil suits against bosses who stiff employees on wages.
“This bill sheds light on the dark shadows that are abuse, and the issue of fear of retaliation in employment,” a release from Holder-Winfield’s office quoted him as saying. “Shady business practices use fear as a tool and by doing so keep wages low and the workplace unsafe. All workers should be
entitled to fundamental rights under Connecticut employment law.”