Friday, December 7, 2012

Human Rights - Should Undocumented Workers be Protected Under US Law?

An undocumented worker is someone working off the books; they are usually not on the payroll and have not completed any tax forms. These people have not provided the company or person they work for with identification of having a legal status to work in this country. Most places of employment require a photo id, social security card or work visa to be eligible for hire. In many states, the burden of proof of legal documentation of employees lies with the employer as they will face steep fines for undocumented workers. The intention behind these laws is the employer and employee are both protected, but it also creates some unfortunate situations. One example is employers taking advantage of these individuals because they are too afraid to speak up for themselves.

Common Abuses of Undocumented Workers

Sadly, undocumented workers are often times subjected to unfair working compensation. This is because the employer understands that the undocumented worker feels uneasy about complaining to employers or about companies to the department of labor. People who work without the proper documentation are usually willing to take any work they can get for any amount of pay. This completely strips the worker from the possibility of truly being able to maintain a living wage without working themselves to death. This necessity to find any type of work available typically equates to very little pay for each person, or a small amount of pay for a group to be divided up amongst many different people.

Another way employers take advantage of undocumented workers is by making them work in unsafe working conditions; they often end up working without the proper safety equipment (in hopes to cut costs by the employer) and the employer shows no regard for these employees as human beings. It would be nice to think that this type of treatment is only in the history books prior to the passing of labor laws. However, if you do a simple Google search you will be overwhelmed with the amount of news reports that come out every week describing the horrible and sub-human treatment that some employers show towards undocumented workers.

These workers are never offered insurance benefits, vacation time, sick days, or holidays and almost always greatly exceed the 40 hour work week – and of course overtime pay is completely out of the question.

Why Keeping Up Standards Benefits Everyone

Even if you are not willing to take a stand for undocumented workers based on their human rights, you should consider how it impacts the workforce of United States citizens. If employers are allowed to take advantage of any worker in the ways mentioned, they are doing a great disservice to the economy and workers everywhere. We live in a global society, America should be an example for how proper business is run. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Some employers are going to take advantage of the lack of rights these people have and therefore not want to hire documented workers if they can get away with it. The employers are also not paying their fair share into the workforce by using unfairly cheap labor- causing an imbalance in a proper economic cycle.

Proponents of Workers Rights

When it comes to the rights of workers, we are all one species, sharing one world and one life.  Regardless of whether or not an individual is a documented worker or not, we all have natural rights that our country based its Constitution on. Although states have certain labor law rights- every state should adopt stricter laws aimed at curving inhuman treatment of the workforce. California covers all workers under their labor laws. Proponents of equal worker’s rights like John Locke acknowledged the value of every worker in the United States and believed that the economy depended on the role of all people, documented or not. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is against worker (and all) discrimination in any circumstance. All the undocumented worker wants is what everyone wants - to be able to provide for themselves and their families; they want to make sure food is on the table and that they can afford to take their children to the doctor when they get sick. Sadly if companies can get away with taking advantage of the desperation of an undocumented worker, they will continue to do so. 


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