Workers’ compensation benefits exist to make sure that injured employees have some protection following an injury. Through workers’ comp, covered employees can obtain some replacement income and medical benefits for their injuries when they’re unable to work.
But a lot of injured workers are afraid to file for benefits when they’re undocumented. Here’s what you need to know:
Your immigration status has no bearing on your workers’ comp claim
For the purposes of workers’ comp, it doesn’t matter if your presence in the U.S. is documented or not. In fact, California has recently taken pains to remind employers that immigration status does not play into someone’s right to benefits.
In general, the workers’ comp system is designed to provide benefits and medical care to injured workers, regardless of fault. Denying benefits to undocumented workers would encourage employers to hire only those employees so that they could evade liability for unsafe workplaces.
Your employer cannot fire you for filing a workers’ comp claim
It’s also helpful to know that employers cannot retaliate against you for filing a claim. While they can object to your claim if they believe you weren’t injured at work, the injury isn’t as serious as you claim or for other reasons related to your entitlement, firing you for making a claim would be considered wrongful termination. That could result in a lawsuit.
If your employer tries to tell you that you’re not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits because of your immigration status, you can fight back. An experienced advocate can review your claim and help you assert your legal rights.