If you are working in California, you are covered by workers’ compensation even if you are working without authorization. Unauthorized or undocumented workers are entitled to virtually the same workers’ comp benefits as other California workers.
What workers’ comp benefits are available after a work injury?
- Reasonable medical expenses
- Disability benefits
- Rehabilitation benefits
- In some cases, lost wages
You may not be eligible for certain job retraining benefits, but your employer’s workers’ comp insurer should pay for the cost of your medical treatment.
What if my employer won’t even give me a claim form?
If you have a valid worker’s compensation claim, your employer should give you a claim form. If they refuse to do so, you should contact an attorney. Your attorney can take your case right to the California Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board.
Can my employer retaliate if I file a workers’ comp claim?
Not legally. It is illegal for employers to use your immigration status as an excuse to fire you after you have made a claim for a workplace injury. It is also illegal for employers to threaten to report you to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after asserting your legal rights or making a workers’ comp claim.
However, it is unfortunately quite common for employers to retaliate against undocumented workers. Therefore, before you file a claim you should discuss your case with an experienced attorney.
As you think about making a claim, consider:
- Whether your employer knows your immigration status
- Whether your employer has threatened you before
- Whether your employer has reported other co-workers to immigration authorities
- Whether your employer will go so far as to report you
It is the policy of the state of California and the United States in general that unauthorized immigrant workers should be able to make workers’ compensation claims without retaliation.
Don’t let fear keep you from making the claim you deserve. If you fear retaliation or have questions about your rights, contact an attorney who focuses on workers’ comp issues for immigrants.