The federal government and the states have laws to protect workers. The laws protect against unfair, dangerous, or illegal working conditions. Workers can take steps to protect themselves.
How can I protect myself?
- Have a written agreement about your job that explains the hours, duties, pay, time-off, and more. For sample forms, go to "Where can I learn more?"
- Keep a written record of your hours, the kind of work that you do, and how much you are paid. A record can help if you have a disagreement about your hours and pay.
- If you are a home care worker, there are new rules about pay that depend on your hours and the kind of work you do. For a sample chart to keep track of hours, go to "Where can I learn more?"
- Write down problems or abuses when they happen. Sometimes written records can help you prove your case.
How do the laws protect me?
- Most workers have a right to the minimum wage. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, but your state might have a higher minimum wage. Click here for a map of state minimum wages.
- Most workers also have a right to overtime pay. Overtime pay is usually 1.5 times your regular hourly wage when you work more than 40 hours in a week.
- Employers must follow rules on how much money they can take out of your pay for meals and housing, how you should be paid for sleep time, and more.
- A few states have passed laws that especially protect domestic workers. Go to https://membership.domesticworkers.org/en/know-your-rights to find out if your state has special protections, or to join other domestic workers who want better laws.
- If you are a domestic worker and you think your employer is not following the law and is not treating you right, learn more in this guide by the National Employment Law Project.
- There are rules to protect domestic workers who have employment visas. Click here to learn more.
- Sometimes an employer or boss who is treating the workers badly is also breaking the law. Click here to learn about possible immigration protections for workers who report unlawful activity.
- If you have permission to work, there are rules about documents that prove it, and discrimination.
- An employer cannot treat a worker like a slave, make them work for no money, or make them do sex work. If this is happening to you, call: 1-888-373-7888 for help. A counselor can answer your questions and keep your information private.
What if my employer calls or threatens to call immigration?
- Workers have rights against employers who retaliate or punish them for fighting or speaking up about their worker rights. You may have protection if your employer threatens to call immigration because you are fighting for your worker rights. Check with an immigration lawyer or BIA accredited rep to find out if you have the right kind of case.
- If your employer is committing a crime, and you are the victim, you might qualify for a visa to stay in the U.S. Click here to learn more about visas for people who are victims of crimes at work.
- Know your rights if ICE, your employer, or others ask you questions about immigration. Click here to learn what to do in a raid or arrest.
Where can I learn more?
The National Employment Law Project has a guide, "Rights Begin at Home: Protecting Yourself as a Domestic Worker." The guide has:
- sample forms at the end, such as a work contract, time-tracking documents, letters to employers about rules for workers and owing pay
- more details on rights and rules that protect domestic workers
- information about federal laws (for the whole country), and state laws in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut
- links to resources and contact information for help.
Learn more about the laws and your worker rights. Join the National Domestic Workers Alliance: https://membership.domesticworkers.org/en/join-now.