Am I Entitled To Workers’ Compensation Benefits As An Undocumented Worker?
Like it or not, there are many undocumented workers in New York, filling all types of positions in all types of establishments. While undocumented immigrants are not technically permitted to work in the United States, many choose to do so in order to support themselves or their families, and they do have certain workplace protections once they are on the job. If you are an undocumented worker, it can make all the difference if you know your rights at work.
“Regardless of Immigration Status”
With certain rare exceptions, undocumented workers are entitled to the exact same protections as documented workers; New York law recognizes that every covered employee should have certain benefits in order to protect themselves and their families in the event of an injury on the job, despite federal laws like the Immigration Reform & Control Act (IRCA) barring the undocumented from working in the country.
The undocumented can obtain medical treatment for the injury, and are eligible to receive weekly payments based on their average weekly wage, just as U.S. citizens and documented immigrants can. That said, just being legally entitled to benefits does not necessarily mean that obtaining them will be easy. Undocumented workers are seen as disposable and easy to exploit by many unscrupulous employers, who will often refuse to pay them and instead threaten to turn them in to Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Potential Options Exist
It can be very intimidating for an undocumented worker to decide to seek legal action against an employer who refuses to provide their benefits – most, if not all, may fear being turned in to immigration authorities. However, you have the absolute right in New York to seek the benefits to which you are entitled, and if you are retaliated against, know that it is unlawful – employers can face heavy fines for misrepresenting their immigrant workers, in addition to any damages they may have to pay if you file suit and prevail.
If you do not file a charge against your employer, be aware that in some cases, you may be able to file a personal injury claim against another actor. For example, if you work as a driver, and are injured in an accident with a private car, you may be able to file suit against the (allegedly) negligent driver for your injuries, even if your employer does not cooperate in the matter of workers’ compensation. Nonetheless, having an experienced and compassionate attorney on your side after your injury can make all the difference in how you choose to proceed.
Call A New York Employment Discrimination Attorney
New York law recognizes that whether or not an employee is supposed to be working, they work hard enough to deserve benefits if they are injured. A New York City employment discrimination attorney from Mansell Law, LLC can offer compassionate and dedicated representation at what can be a frightening time for you and your loved ones. Contact our offices today for a free consultation.