Thursday, March 31, 2011

U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Hear Case on Whether Federal Law Prohibits Undocumented Workers from Receiving State Workers’ Compensation Benefits

In Minnesota, undocumented workers are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, regardless of their work status. Some states do permit undocumented workers to collect workers’ compensation benefits, and some states do not. To my mind, this makes sense. If an employer hires an undocumented worker, that employer is responsible for workers’ compensation benefits if that worker is injured on the job. Employers who hire illegal workers should be held responsible for paying workers’ compensation benefits if their undocumented workers are injured.

On February 28, 2011, the United States Supreme Court declined the petition of a Louisiana employer requesting that the Supreme Court decide that Federal law prohibits states from extending workers’ compensation benefits to undocumented workers.

In Louisiana, undocumented workers are also covered for workers’ compensation benefits. Vaughan Roofing & Sheet Metal v. Antonio Garcia Rodriguez involved an undocumented worker who was injured while doing roofing work at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. Vaughan Roofing & Sheet Metal was a contractor on the job site, and it was determined that Rodriguez was a “statutory” employee of Vaughan. Rodriguez was awarded workers’ compensation benefits.

Vaughan appealed the determination through the state court system, and then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court for a determination as to whether Federal immigration law pre-empts state workers’ compensation laws permitting undocumented workers to collect benefits. In declining to hear the case, the Supreme Court leaves the states to make their own determinations as to whether or not to extend workers’ compensation coverage to undocumented workers who are injured on the job.

Regardless of your legal work status, if you are injured on the job in Minnesota, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. For a free, no-obligation consultation with a workers’ compensation lawyer, call us at 877-746-5680, or click here to send us an email.

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