According to the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), hiring undocumented workers is illegal when employers know their employee’s residential status. Although the law also requires employers to fire employees upon determining that employees are not authorized to work in the U.S., employers are still responsible for extending workers’ compensation benefits to undocumented workers who are injured on the job.
It is the case that many workers are concerned about filing a workers’ compensation claim because they fear they may lose their job upon requesting financial assistance. For undocumented workers, the stakes are higher than loss of employment: the threat of deportation.
In 2011, the Florida First District Court of Appeals ruled that an undocumented worker was eligible to receive benefits from workers’ comp. Luis Aragon suffered injuries after falling from a roof, hurting his foot and arm. In a suit filed by the insurer providing the workers’ compensation policy, the insurer used Aragon’s status as an undocumented worker to justify denial of the claim. In its ruling, the First District Court stated that “illegal and unlawfully employed workers should be eligible for benefits.” The court also noted that the employer should have been aware of the status of its employee.
Florida businesses must display workers’ compensation posters prominently on the worksite. In many cases, posters and brochures about workers’ comp are written in English and Spanish. If you have been newly hired and are an undocumented worker, you should locate workers’ compensation posters or brochures at work. In Florida, the rights that are on the posters apply to documented and undocumented workers.
While many people associate workers’ compensation claims with those laboring where heavy machinery is used, such as on construction sites or in refineries, injuries can be sustained at any worksite. Those who fear filing a claim will result in employer retaliation are advised to seek out the advice of a knowledgeable employment attorney.