We get many questions about the level of protection that illegal aliens, or more broadly, people without work authorization in the United States, get under the law. In general, illegal aliens do not get the same level of protection. But in the most frequent scenario, which involves violations of minimum wage and/or overtime laws, illegal aliens have THE SAME RIGHTS AND PROTECTION under the law as U.S. citizens.
Most illegal aliens think that they are at mercy of their employers, but often the opposite is true.
There is nothing in the law or in the court decisions that would preclude employees of any status from recovering unpaid wages and overtime payments. In fact, in numerous cases, courts clearly indicated that employers should not be rewarded for illegally employing personnel unauthorized to work in the United States and then not paying them. In other words, a business cannot hire an illegal alien and then not pay him or pay him less.
Many illegal aliens are afraid to come forward because they fear immigration authorities. We are not aware of any actions taken by immigration authorities in these situations. Moreover, employers are as afraid of complaining because they themselves violated the law by hiring an illegal alien.
In sum, when it comes to wage and overtime violations, illegal aliens are in a good position to recover the underpayments in private negotiations or even in court.