Posted by Tamara
Some undocumented workers in Missouri may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. In Texas, New York, Florida and Utah, the state laws specifically grant undocumented workers the right to collect workers’ compensation benefits when they are injured at work. In nine other states, including Louisiana, New Jersey and Connecticut, state laws mandate that an employee cannot be denied workers’ comp based solely on being an illegally employed undocumented worker.
Under the federal Immigration Reform and Control Act or IRCA, it is a crime to knowingly hire anyone who is not authorized to work in the United States, so employers require workers to provide proof of ability to work. This proof is shown via I-9 forms, where the worker provides documents validating his or her legality to work in this country. Unfortunately, employers still unknowingly hire undocumented workers, because the workers often provide convincing fake documents.
Many Missouri employers have endured such an unnerving experience. The revelation often occurs after the undocumented worker is injured at work and files for workers’ compensation benefits. During the medical treatment or workers’ comp proceedings, the employee is discovered to be an illegal immigrant and not authorized to work in the U.S. Because it is also a crime to continue to employ an undocumented worker, the employee is usually terminated.
In many states, however, the terminated employee may still qualify for workers’ comp. Texas, Florida, Utah and New York specifically grant undocumented workers the right to collect worker’s compensation benefits when they are injured on the job. In Oklahoma, North Carolina, Georgia and 6 other states, the courts have ruled that an undocumented worker cannot be denied workers comp simply because he or she was illegally employed.
There are two states, however, that have a completely different perspective. In Arizona and Wyoming, undocumented workers are not entitled to worker’s comp. According to these state laws, illegal immigrants cannot legally enter into an employment contract, and therefore cannot be employees. As a result, they are not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
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