Consider if you have been injured in an accident that was the negligence of an employer or somebody else at your workplace. Will you be able to receive workers’ compensation benefits as a result? Workers’ comp aims to provide payment to employees who suffer injury or illness at the hands of their job. If you are eligible, there are many benefits in which you can reap if you are eligible- such as compensation for lost work, past wages, and future earning capacity. But what happens if you are an undocumented person filing for workers’ compensation? Will you be able to gain the compensation that you deserve?
Workers’ Compensation Qualifications
There are typically three eligibility requirements for those seeking workers’ comp. These requirements include the person or company carrying workers’ compensation insurance in the first place, the fact that you must be an employee of the person or company, and the fact that your injury or illness absolutely must be work-related. Knowing this, does an undocumented worker apply to any of these qualifications? Really, it all depends on the state. Some states expressly cover undocumented workers in their statutes (such as Arizona, California, Florida, Montana, Nevada, New York, Texas, and Utah). Other states will almost always leave it to the courts to struggle with whether or not to cover the workers.
In California, the only catch is that undocumented workers may not be eligible for job retraining benefits when it comes to receiving workers’ compensation. In addition to this, you may not be able to recover lost income if you have been fired due to a workers’ compensation claim. This could or could not be seen as a type of discrimination if there is provided proof.
Anti-Discrimination Laws Protecting Undocumented Workers
Regardless of if you’re an undocumented worker or not, in the state of California, it could be considered illegal if an employer discriminates against you. Along with not being able to fire you just because you applied for workers’ compensation, an employer also cannot fire you because of your national origin either. Depending on the nature of your claim, you should contact the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) to file a discrimination claim.
What Risks May I Face if I Choose to File a Workers’ Comp Claim?
If you choose to file a workers’ comp claim against your employer and you are an undocumented worker; yes, there may be risks. The greatest risk in filing a claim is that you could be retaliated against. Retaliation refers to the process of your employer taking or threatening to take some employment action against you. They may also threaten to report you to the Department of Homeland Security just because you filed a claim against them. However, you should always know that retaliation is illegal and you can bring a lawsuit against that retaliation in California. Another problem is the fact that, if you are looked into by the Department of Homeland Security, you are not protected from them because of your claim. You could end up being deported or charged criminally for false information on the papers you filled out when you applied for your job.
If you believe that you are being discriminated against just because you are an undocumented worker, you may want to contact some experienced legal help. Undocumented people are always permitted to file for workers’ compensation if they have been injured on the job. Contact RAWA Law Group today for a consultation and case review.
- Amy DelPo. Nolo, 2015. Web. Accessed Nov 3, 2015. https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/are-you-eligible-workers-compensation-32963.html
- TLASFS. The Legal Aid Society of San Francisco, 2015. Web. Accessed Nov 3, 2015. https://www.sikhcoalition.org/documents/pdf/undocumented_workers.pdf