Being injured on the job can be an experience that causes significant disruption to your life, especially if it causes life-threatening injuries or loss of work. Taking care of yourself and your family can already be stressful enough, with new medical bills to worry about any possible job insecurity. If you are an undocumented worker, the stress of a work injury can be amplified, especially if you are unaware of your rights as an undocumented worker.
If you are an undocumented worker injured on the job, the Sacramento Workers’ Compensation Attorney’s attorneys are ready to help you. All workers in California have rights and can be entitled to benefits after being injured, even if considered undocumented. This blog will outline your rights and options for payment and treatment for your on-the-job injury.
Who Can be Considered an Undocumented Worker?
In the United States, undocumented workers, unfortunately often referred to as “illegal” immigrants, reside in any given country without legal documentation or citizenship. The term undocumented can also refer to someone with unresolved immigration status. Workers with unresolved or undocumented status are not permitted to work in the United States.
Undocumented Workers Have Rights in the State of California
As an undocumented worker in California, you have rights if you are injured on the job. Regardless of your immigration status, anyone who works is considered an employee under California law. Workers’ compensation benefits may be available if your employer will not offer modified or permanent work based on your injury status.
However, only some worker’s compensation benefits are available to undocumented workers. If your employer can arrange modified or permanent work, you may not be entitled to temporary disability or supplemental job displacement benefits. You may not receive benefits if your employer cannot offer work based on your immigration status. This may occur if your employer discovers you are an undocumented worker; per U.S. federal law, employers cannot legally hire people with no legal right to work.
You may be entitled to some job retraining benefits. If you are fired because of your workers’ compensation claim, you may not be allowed to pay income you may have lost due to being fired.
Can Undocumented Workers Receive Workers’ Compensation Benefits in California?
The California Labor Commissioner protects the rights of all workers regardless of immigration status. California State laws guarantee that everyone receives payment for the work they perform. The California Labor Commissioner does not question immigration status as a policy.
You have the right to a workers’ compensation claim if you have a work injury. You may be entitled to lost wages & medical care due to your work injury. In the case of a more severe or life-threatening injury, you have the right to job training and rehabilitation benefits. Due to your injury or illness, your employer cannot terminate your employment.
California is considered a “No-Fault” State.
In the State of California, undocumented workers are considered employees because California is a “no-fault” State. All workers are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if they have a work injury; the employee’s immigration status is irrelevant to workers’ compensation benefits.
Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim as an Undocumented Worker
You can file a workers’ compensation claim if you are injured on the job as an undocumented worker. It would be best if you began by obtaining a claim form from your employer. If your employer does not provide the form, you can contact the state Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB). If you are still unable to obtain fair treatment from your employer regarding your injury, it is recommended that you research your rights and contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. If your claim is approved, you may be entitled to pay for your medical expenses, disability, and rehabilitation benefits.
Federal Immigration Laws for Workers’ Compensation Cases
Because Federal Laws do not address workers’ compensation laws and benefits, California’s workers’ compensation laws do not interfere with any federal immigration laws. Your rights and benefits as an undocumented worker are listed below but may not be limited to these critical points:
- Medical care
- Temporary & Permanent Disability
- Medical care you may need in the future
Undocumented workers can also resolve their workers’ compensation case with a Compromise and Release (C&R) agreement. According to the California Department of Industrial Relations, a C&R agreement is a “settlement in which you receive a lump sum payment and become responsible for paying for your future medical care. A workers’ compensation judge must approve a settlement like this.”
It is illegal to file false employment documents. However, it is not workers’ compensation fraud. Since it’s not fraud, an undocumented worker can’t lose workers’ compensation benefits due to falsely filed documents.
Other Rights of Undocumented Workers
Undocumented workers have many essential rights outside of the workers’ compensation field; these may include the following:
- Being paid minimum wage
- 10-minute break period every four hours worked
- A meal period
- Correct supplies and tools needed to complete your job
- A pay stub for every paycheck received
- A regularly scheduled paycheck
- Every time you are asked to work by an employer, you must be paid
- Getting paid all your owed wages the of your termination, or up to 72 hours after willingly quitting your employment
- File a wage claim or retaliation complaint, or speak to the California Labor Commissioner
Undocumented Workers Have the Right to Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Suppose you receive an injury on the job, and your employer or insurer will not provide workers’ compensation benefits because you are an undocumented employee. In that case, you have the right to fair treatment. Eason & Tambornini’s experienced workers’ compensation attorneys have valuable years of experience helping undocumented workers receive fair settlements in their workers’ compensation claims in the Sacramento area. The workers’ compensation field is frustrating and confusing; our workers’ compensation attorneys can help you through this complex system.