My Current State: 

Kansas Workers’ Compensation Law

Posted by Tamara

Undocumented workers in Kansas may qualify for workers’ compensation in some cases. In Arizona and Wyoming, courts ruled that an undocumented worker does not qualify for workers’ comp. According to these findings, an illegal immigrant cannot legally enter into an employment contract, and therefore is not an employee.

Other states, however, have laws that do entitle undocumented workers to workers’ comp. Texas, Utah, Florida and New York, for example, specifically grant the right to collect workers’ compensation benefits to undocumented workers injured on the job.

Georgia, Ohio, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and five other states have ruled in their courts that an employee cannot be denied worker’s comp based solely on the fact that he or she was unlawfully employed.

Employers in Kansas have experienced the shock of discovering that an employee whose I-9 documents seemed legitimate presented fake documents at hiring and is in fact illegal. These discoveries often occur when a worker is injured in the workplace and then files a claim for workers’ comp. During medical treatment or worker’s comp proceedings, the true identity of the employee is revealed along with the revelation that he or she is not authorized to work in the U.S.

To knowingly hire an employee who cannot legally work in this country, is a crime under the IRCA, the federal Immigration Reform and Control Act. Continuing to employ an undocumented worker is also a crime, so the employee is usually terminated.

The terminated employee may still be eligible for workers’ comp. In addition, under FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) court rulings, the employee could be entitled to back wages for overtime.

The concern regarding undocumented workers is not trivial. There are approximately 3 million undocumented immigrants in just Texas and California. Employers, therefore, should be vigilant when checking proof of ability to work in the United States, so that they avoid unknowingly violating IRCA by hiring an illegal immigrant.





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