OLYMPIA – Washington employers who threaten their immigrant employees with deportation or the destruction of their documents while forcing them to work can be charged with a felony.
A new law signed Wednesday stiffens the penalties for coercing workers into forced labor, adding to existing law that makes it illegal to threaten a person with physical harm to make them work. The law now allows employers to be charged with a felony if they threaten to withhold or destroy documents connected to a worker’s immigration status, or threaten to report them to immigration officials to force them to work.
Reporting someone to federal officials for being in the country illegally is not against the law; using it as a threat against workers as a form of “involuntary servitude” is.
Another term for that practice, Gov. Jay Inslee said when signing the bill, is slavery.