Do Immigrant Day Laborers Have The Same Rights As Other Workers When They Are Injured?


If an immigrant day laborer at a construction site or other job gets injured, does he or she have the same rights as other workers?

Day laborers are often faced with challenges that other workers don't have.

Day laborers are often treated like "second class" employees. The day labor workforce is roughly 87% Hispanic, and many are undocumented immigrants. Around 11% have some form of pending immigration application. The employment is often unstable and they're frequently paid poverty-level wages.

Because day laborers are often immigrants and have uncertain residential status in the U.S., they are often less aware of their rights (or more intimidated about requesting them). Often, they are paid "under the table" -- making it hard for them to even prove that they were ever employed at a particular business. That can present unique challenges when it comes to getting benefits for any injuries they incur while on the job.

For example, one day laborer, an undocumented immigrant, worked for a construction company who paid in cash every day. When he was injured on the job, he was told that he wasn't considered an employee and wasn't entitled to company insurance benefits, either. His only documentation of employment was the owner's business card and the address of where he was injured. Despite those hurdles, his attorney was able to investigate and convince the court that the worker was entitled to benefits. 

Day laborers are still entitled to compensation for their injuries.

Depending on state laws and the circumstances of the accident, an injured worker might be eligible for workers' compensation benefits. The courts in many states, including Illinois, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and others, have repeatedly affirmed that immigration status doesn't have any bearing on a worker's right to compensation.

It doesn't matter if the employee is in the U.S. illegally or not. It also doesn't matter if the employee used a false Social Security number or identification in order to get the job. Under the U.S. Constitution, everyone within the U.S. borders is guaranteed equal protection under the law. That means that even undocumented and illegal immigrants are entitled to coverage for their medical bills, compensation for lost wages, and vocational rehabilitation.

Day laborers are also entitled to engage in third-party lawsuits.

If a day laborer is injured due to the negligence of a third-party, they also have the right to pursue a personal injury claim. For example, a day laborer who is injured when a piece of defective machinery breaks in his or her hands may be able to file a personal injury claim against the manufacturer of the machine, in addition to making a workers' compensation claim.

This is important because workers' compensation benefits, unlike personal injury claims, don't provide compensation for the injured person's pain and suffering

If you're an immigrant day laborer who has been injured on the job, don't assume that your lack of documentation or immigration status will prevent you from enforcing your rights. Talk to an attorney who is familiar with day laborer cases and discuss your situation. To find out more, speak with someone like Irene M Rodriguez PA.


27 October 2015

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