In California, all injured employees are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits regardless of their immigration status. Undocumented workers are eligible for benefits. Workers’ comp is an insurance-based program designed to provide specific benefits for employees who have sustained injuries on the job. In general, these benefits may include:
Your employer is legally required to have workers’ compensation insurance.
In the event that your employer is illegally uninsured, California has a special fund, the Uninsured Employers Benefits Trust Fund (UEBTF), in place to ensure injured employees still have access to benefits. Under LC 3716, the fund was expressly “created to ensure that workers who happen to be employed by illegally uninsured employers are not deprived of workers’ compensation benefits.”
Under LC 3733(b), California workers who are not U.S. citizens are also entitled to receiving compensation through the UEBTF. You may be entitled to receiving benefits from this fund if your employer is unlawfully uninsured. The UEBTF has the right to collect on an employee’s award directly from the uninsured employer.
Throughout the U.S., undocumented workers and their households pay roughly $79.7 billion in federal tax contributions and $41 billion in state and local tax contributions.
California has the largest number of undocumented immigrants than any other state in the country, roughly 2.6 million. Nearly 3 in 4 of these undocumented workers are considered essential workers. Many of these workers are employed in some of the lowest-paying and most dangerous jobs like mining, logging, agriculture, and construction.
Despite experiencing abnormally high rates of work-related injuries, many undocumented workers fear filing a workers’ compensation claim due to fear of retaliation or deportation. Unfortunately, some employers view this as an incentive to continue hiring and taking advantage of undocumented workers who they know are unlikely to file a claim for benefits.
The state of California protects all of its workers and discourages unfair tactics by employers. In fact, the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement has a policy to never ask about the immigration status of applicants for workers’ compensation.
Some employers may even threaten to report you to immigration if you file a claim. That is why it is important to have an attorney working on your claim from the very beginning. If your employer threatens to retaliate against you, then you are entitled to additional claims.
At Awed Law Group, we are dedicated to protecting the rights of immigrants and injured workers. Speak with an attorney who practices both immigration and workers’ compensation. Call or text (949) 528-6220 for a free consultation. We are here to help you and protect you.