California Workers’ Comp for Immigrants
Workers’ compensation laws protect and help workers who get hurt on the job, but it might not be easy for an undocumented immigrant working in California to decide to file a claim. Employee rights, employer rights, and immigration laws can complicate the claims process. In California, however, every worker has the right to file for workers’ compensation benefits regardless of immigration status.
California’s laws about employment protection and federal laws about immigration are not the same. Workers’ compensation cases don’t have anything to do with someone’s immigration status, and immigration laws don’t have anything to do with workers’ comp benefits.
Compensation for Undocumented Workers’ Eligibility
You must be a worker.
In other words, you must be an employee to be eligible, so freelancers and other independent contractors can’t get workers’ compensation. These benefits also don’t cover people who work as volunteers.
Still, there are some cases where this rule doesn’t apply. In this situation, it is very important to talk to an attorney.
Your illness or injury should be connected to your job.
Most of the time, it’s easy to tell if an injury happened at work or was caused by the job, whether it was a one-time accident, an injury that happened over time, or an illness caused by the job environment or work tasks. You must show that your injury or illness happened at work. To get the benefits of workers’ compensation, you need the right pieces of evidence. If you don’t do this, neither your boss nor the court will consider providing any benefits.
What is the interaction between federal law on immigration and California workers’ compensation?
Despite any federal immigration law, California has made it clear that, except for reinstatement, all state-mandated benefits are open to all California employees. Workers’ immigration status cannot be investigated in connection with a negligence claim unless doing so is required by law.
In California, undocumented employees still benefit under the state’s workers’ compensation laws.
Personal Injury Claims That Unidentified Individuals May File
Even if an individual is unable to prove their legal status, they may still submit a personal injury claim to seek compensation for:
- Spending on medical services
- Sessions in therapy (physical or mental)
- Tests of many kinds, including imaging, are used for diagnosis (X-Rays, MRIs, etc.)
- Essential home medical gear (such as walkers or adjustable beds)
- Lack of access to essential home services
- Damage to property
- Agony and distress
Because of the difficulty in producing W2 forms or other evidence of legal employment, it may be difficult for an undocumented individual to recover lost wages. However, your injury attorney may be able to recover compensation that is at least partially based on your estimated future earnings.
What If a Worker Lied About their Status?
When disputing a workers’ compensation claim, employers often have more success if they can show that the worker provided inaccurate or exaggerated information about the incident. However, whether an employee has lied about their legal status or ability to work is irrelevant.
Will Benefit Claims Lead to Deportation?
Many undocumented employees know they have the legal right to seek workers’ compensation. They, however, refrain from doing so out of concern that doing so would draw the attention of immigration officials and put them in greater danger of deportation.
The California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement instituted a policy of never questioning the legal status of applicants to afford injured unauthorized employees protections from this danger. California has taken a strong stance to protect applicant information in response to the political climate of recent years and increased scrutiny of undocumented immigrants. These include limiting the ability of ICE agents to enter Labor Commission buildings without a warrant and formally requesting that ICE agents not lurk around courthouses in search of undocumented immigrants.
California employment cases can be complex. Your employer will likely fight back against a wrongful termination case. You need someone on your side to protect your rights and get the money you deserve.
Call Setyan Law at (213)-618-3655 for a consultation.