The significant presence of undocumented workers laboring in the U.S. economy makes workers’ compensation entitlement a critical issue. The total illegal immigrant population in the U.S. is estimated at 11.1 million, with eight million comprising the civilian workforce. In New York and 27 other states, court challenges have established that undocumented workers are entitled to workers’ compensation, including the reimbursement of medical expenses and a cash benefit covering a percentage of lost wages, just as any other workers are entitled to such compensation.
Undocumented Workers and Workplace Injuries in NYC
Many immigrant workers are unaware of these protections. The Law Offices of Proner and Proner works very hard to inform them of their rights. Nonetheless, despite our efforts, undocumented workers who are injured on the job are sometimes reluctant to confront their employers and press their claims
Fearful of retaliation, job loss, and deportation, many undocumented workers keep quiet about their health and deal with injuries as best they can. Because many undocumented workers work as day laborers on jobs that are very dangerous, such as roofing, carpentry, masonry, landscaping, demolition, construction, window washing, the undocumented worker often times suffer from very serious workplace injuries.
Undocumented Workers Can File a Workers’ Comp Claim in Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens and Throughout NY
While some workers in low-wage jobs are citizens, many are not. They are often paid in cash and kept “off the books.” Some employers won’t offer these undocumented workers a health plan or create any kind of safety net should they be injured.
Occasionally, an employer may help a worker if he agrees to tell the hospital that the injury happened outside of work. In the worst cases, some employers, rather than help the injured workers, threaten to inform the government of their status if they try to gain compensation. The law in New York, as well as many other states, prevent employers from using an employee’s immigration status to retaliate against a worker. Unfortunately, many workers are not aware of their rights.
All Workers Have a Right to Workers’ Compensation Regardless of Immigration Status in New York
In the last 10 years, courts in 28 states, including New York, New Jersey, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and California have ruled that all workers have a right to workers’ compensation regardless of their immigration status.
These courts determined that despite the fact that the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 states that it is illegal for an undocumented individual to work in the United States, state laws governing workers’ compensation do not expressly exclude undocumented workers.
In New York, the Workers’ Compensation Board’s stance on whether undocumented workers have the right to compensation for job injuries is definitive. The New York State Court of Appeals, the highest Court in New York State, has held that immigration status is not a factor in awarding benefits for workers injured on the job.
Free Consultation with Experienced New York Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Proner & Proner
To find out if you’re entitled to Workers Compensation befits, contact the law offices of Proner and Proner.