According to statistics compiled by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, approximately 11.5 million undocumented immigrants are currently living in America. Woodstock worker comp lawyers know that many of these immigrants perform high-risk jobs in Illinois. A recent court ruling sets an important precedent by stating that undocumented workers cannot be denied compensation if they suffer an on-the-job injury.
Recent decision in Pennsylvania
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in July 2014 that an immigrant from South America was still eligible for compensation after a work-related injury, even though he was unwilling to answer questions or produce documents regarding his immigration status. According to court records, the worker chose to plead the Fifth Amendment when confronted about his status after an accident and was subsequently denied benefits. The new ruling states that his refusal to provide documents cannot be used against him. It also creates a precedent for undocumented workers who are hurt on the job and require workers’ compensation.
What does this case mean for businesses and employees?
Woodstock worker comp lawyers are aware that this recent ruling is important for businesses and employees. It affirms the constitutional right of injured workers to seek benefits after an accident on the job, whether or not they are legal residents of the U.S. It is also an important reminder to employers that they are responsible for investigating the immigration status of new employees before adding them to the payroll. The burden of proof is on the business. If a person is hurt at work, the employer is always required to provide compensation, even if the worker turns out to be undocumented.
Constitutional rights for all Illinois workers
According to the U.S. Constitution, every person residing within American borders has the right to equal protection under the law. Woodstock worker comp lawyers are often asked what this means in practical terms. Equal protection includes the right to equal benefits, including all of the following:
- Compensation for lost wages after a disabling workplace accident
- Coverage for emergency medical treatment
- Coverage for rehabilitation and long-term physical therapy
- Provision of any vocational training required to start a new career after the accident
Undocumented workers cannot be denied these four categories of benefits if they become injured or ill on the job.
Recovering from a workplace injury in Illinois can be a complicated process. If you have questions about workers’ compensation and immigration status, you may find it helpful to seek advice from a lawyer.