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Female Immigrant Workers and the Law: Limits and Opportunities

27 Pages Posted: 3 Aug 2006  

Maria Linda Ontiveros

University of San Francisco - School of Law

Date Written: 2006


This paper explains the reasons that traditional United States labor and employment laws are incapable of effectively addressing the types of workplace problems confronting female immigrant workers. It critiques the protections supposedly offered by the free market, labor standards, antidiscrimination laws and collective bargaining. It argues that statutory exclusion, immigration issues, nonrecognition of injury, and cultural limitations thwart the effectiveness of traditional approaches. It then describes a variety of initiatives and approaches being taken at the domestic and international level that more effectively address these problems. These initiatives include the use of the Thirteenth Amendment and antitrafficking legislation, as well as submissions filed under the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation and other international treaties. This paper will appear as a chapter in the forthcoming book, The Sex of Class: Women Transforming American Labor, edited by Dorothy Sue Cobble, and published by Cornell University Press.

Keywords: immigrant women; human trafficking, labor law, NAALC, immigrant workers, thirteenth amendment

Suggested Citation

Ontiveros, Maria Linda, Female Immigrant Workers and the Law: Limits and Opportunities (2006). Available at SSRN: or

Maria Linda Ontiveros (Contact Author)

University of San Francisco - School of Law ( email )

2130 Fulton Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
United States
415-422-5365 (Phone)

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