Last month, President Donald Trump made headlines for his executive decisions limiting refuges coming into the US. In addition, he has also taken executive action cracking down on sanctuary cities and subsidizing an unwanted wall with Mexico. So we can only speculate that his next move will be the subject of undocumented employees.
Illegal immigrants make up 3.5% of the United States’ population and in California alone, those illegal immigrants make up 10% of the workforce. An illegal immigrant is not legally allowed to work in the United States. There is something known as the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), which is a federal law that requires companies to verify their employee’s eligibility to work in the United States prior to hiring an individual. Multiple violations under the law could cost an employer as much as $10,000 for each unauthorized employee.
Even though it is unlawful to hire an undocumented individual, sometimes it can happen, whether an individual provides false documentation or the business employs an illegal immigrant unknowingly. Illegal immigrants can also go into a “contract of hire” and seek workers compensation benefits. So, what happens then?
Employers may argue that, since the illegal immigrant isn’t authorized to work in the United States, they are not legally employees and are therefore ineligible for workers‘ compensation.
Lamentably, sometimes these same employers exploit individuals knowing of their desperate circumstances. This can happen when an illegal immigrant gets hurt at work, yet is advised not to make a claim for workers’ comp benefits. Attorney Jeffrey Kaufman, who specializes in workers compensation cases, has even had several clients tell him, they are undermined by their manager and threatened with deportation.
But the law entitles you to worker’s compensation benefits if you are hurt on-the-job. This includes wage loss and medical care. No matter how it happens, illegal immigrants are allowed medical treatment under workers’ compensation. In exchange, the boss keeps the protection afforded by the exclusive remedy provision. In numerous states, illegal immigrants can get workers’ comp because the state’s statute specifically includes undocumented employees. Amongst some of the states that have statutes that specifically include undocumented immigrants are: California, Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Hawaii.
In other states, an illegal immigrant does not qualify for workers’ compensation. Arizona and Wyoming courts have ruled that the illegal immigrant cannot legally enter into an employment contract, and therefore is not an employee.
On the other hand, wage loss benefits are much more intricate. Courts have found that illegal immigrants can enter into a valid contract of hire and be entitled to wage loss. However, payment is discontinued once the boss discovers the worker is no longer able to work because of committing a crime. To be exact, disregarding federal law and being an undocumented worker. A good discussion of how the law operates can be found in Sanchez v. Eagle Alloy Inc., 254 Mich App 651, 658 NW2d 510 (2003).
I advise that anyone who suffers an accident on the job, contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney for a case evaluation.
Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers never charges a fee to evaluate a potential case. Attorney Jeffrey Kaufman has represented injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years. Call (855) 221-2667 for a free consultation today.