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Can undocumented immigrants receive workers’ compensation?

No one who sustains an injury on the job should have to work through their pain. Yet many undocumented immigrants will do so. They may worry that they cannot receive workers’ compensation. And they might also have concerns that making a claim could lead to their deportation.

Some immigrant workers have faced arrest and deportation after filing for workers’ compensation. But immigrants in most states can have the same right as native citizens to workers’ compensation. Remembering these facts can help you exercise yours.

Understand your legal right to workers’ compensation

Louisiana law decrees workers’ compensation a right to all employees. The state’s statutes do not explicitly extend this right to undocumented immigrants. Yet they do not forbid it. The state’s definition of “employee” is broad. All workers in Louisiana have legal employee status, so long as they are not contractors or hired on a fee basis. Undocumented immigrants who do not work on fee or contract arrangements then meet this definition.

Understand the federal barriers

Despite state law, many employers will try to deny undocumented immigrants workers’ compensation. Your employer may fear repercussions outlined in the Immigration Reform and Control Act. This act declares that any business found employing undocumented labor could be fined up to $10,000 per worker. To your employer, then, the risk of a penalty may outweigh their obligation to your well-being.

Understand the challenges of improper documentation

You will still have to work through issues of documentation to receive workers’ compensation. You might be using a false social security number. Or you may have no documentation whatsoever. In these cases, working with an immigration lawyer can help understand your legal options to receive benefits.

In Louisiana, you have the right to workers’ compensation benefits no matter your immigration status. Yet you may feel scared of asserting yours, in fear of losing your livelihood in the United States. By understanding the laws that both challenge and aid your claim, you can take the steps toward receiving the benefits you deserve.