In our present political situation, federal and state laws sometimes contradict each other. Currently, President Trump’s strict immigration policies are at odds with California’s “sanctuary state” policy. The state’s policy gives protections to undocumented immigrants and limits cooperation of local and state officers with federal immigration authorities.
About 9% of California’s workers are believed to be undocumented immigrants. California courts have previously ruled that undocumented workers are entitled to workers’ compensation. According to the Insurance Journal, the Second District Court of Appeal ruled in favor of an undocumented worker who advocated for workers’ compensation benefits in 2005. The worker was injured on the job and their employer argued that federal immigration laws meant that they did not qualify for compensation. However, the court found that immigration status was irrelevant.
In addition, the California Department of Industrial Relations states that all workers, regardless of legal status, are protected under labor laws after they are hired. Labor laws allow for workers to get benefits when they are injured and protects them from facing employer retaliation when they take action.
California in particular provides extra protections with its sanctuary state laws that prohibit employers from turning in undocumented employees to federal immigration enforcement officers unless required by federal law. Employers cannot voluntarily allow ICE agents to access, review, or gain possession of an employee’s records without a judicial warrant or subpoena. Employers who break this law can face up to $10,000 in fines.
If you’ve been injured on the job, you are entitled to submit a claim for workers’ compensation benefits from the state. In California, these benefits can include lost wages, medical treatment, and partial or permanent disability funds. You are more likely to receive benefits with the support of a workers’ compensation attorney than if you pursue the claim alone.
Sometimes employers make undocumented workers fearful of pursuing workers’ comp benefits by telling them they have no rights and threatening to fire them. Lawyers will protect your rights and fight dishonest claims from employers hoping to avoid paying benefits. If you are undocumented or don’t have health insurance at the time of the accident or illness, you can still qualify for a workers’ compensation claim. You needn’t worry about involving the state, because California law does not allow inquiry into immigration status in such circumstances.
Workers’ comp attorney Stephen Dial has more than 35 years of experience, and lawyers like him are skilled at recognizing when an employer acts unscrupulously. Call now to talk to attorney Stephen Dial or to schedule your free consultation: 714-279-8055.