Christopher Ho

Christopher Ho
Director, National Origin and Immigrants’ Rights Program

As director of LAAW’s National Origin and Immigrants’ Rights Program, Chris (he/him) focuses on employment practices that disproportionately affect immigrant workers, language minorities and others who face discrimination because of where they or their families come from. In this work, he has litigated many legal questions of first impression, leading to judicial decisions that have solidified and expanded Federal and California law protections for these worker communities.

The impact litigation Chris and his colleagues have brought has strengthened the ability of undocumented workers to fight back against employer exploitation. In two cases, Contreras v. Corinthian Vigor Insurance Brokerage and Singh v. Jutla, the U.S. District Court established that employers cannot contact immigration authorities to retaliate against undocumented workers who have asserted their legal rights. In Rivera v. Nibco, the Ninth Circuit in 2004 barred an employer from inquiring into the immigration status of the 25 plaintiffs, thereby precluding the weaponization of the civil discovery process as a tool of intimidation. And Chris’s 2014 California Supreme Court victory in Salas v. Sierra Chemical Co. established that immigrant workers have full legal standing to enforce their California workplace rights, irrespective of their immigration status or whether they may have used an invalid Social Security number to obtain their jobs.

In addition, in 2017, Chris and his colleagues won two important victories in the Ninth Circuit. In Arias v. Raimondo, co-counseled with California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. (CRLA), the court again created national precedent when it found an employer’s attorney could be held personally liable for unlawful retaliation when he contacted ICE to have an undocumented immigrant worker deported after he had sued the employer to recover his unpaid wages. And in Guerrero v. California Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the Ninth Circuit upheld a groundbreaking U.S. District Court judgment that CDCR violated a job applicant’s federal civil rights by rejecting him solely because he had used an invalid Social Security number to obtain work while he had been undocumented.

Chris got his B.A. in political science from Yale, an A.M. in government from Harvard and his law degree from Stanford. He first joined Legal Aid at Work as its Félix Velarde-Muñoz Graduate Intern, later returning as a staff attorney. In 2001, he was a Windcall Resident Fellow in Belgrade, Montana. During the Obama administration, Chris was appointed to the EEOC’s Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace.

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