California’s undocumented workers often work at the most dangerous jobs and suffer injuries at work just like anyone else. If that happens to you, you might be afraid to file for workers’ compensation benefits because of your status. You might even think you can’t get benefits. The truth is, California law allows undocumented workers to file for workers’ comp benefits. The law applies to you whether you are a U.S. citizen, on a work visa or have no documentation at all.
Many undocumented workers fear that filing a workers’ compensation claim will somehow result in deportation. That worry is understandable, but not necessary. The Department of Industrial Relations in California does not even ask about your immigration status. They encourage every injured worker to file a workers’ comp claim, regardless of status.
The law says that employers may not retaliate against an employee for filing a claim. That means they cannot cut your pay, fire you or threaten to report you to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Unfortunately, some employers do threaten their employees with retaliation if they file a claim.
If your employer has threatened you in the past or threatened your co-workers, talk to an attorney to help you with your claim. These employers count on fear to allow them to break the law and create unsafe workplaces. If they do retaliate, you may have a legal claim against them.
Everyone has the right to a safe and healthy workplace. If you have concerns about filing a workers’ comp claim after a work injury, reach out for legal help. Find a firm that understands both workers’ compensation claims and immigration laws to protect your rights throughout the process.