Injured Workers and Immigration Status

            There is a common misconception by injured workers that not “having papers” or other questions about their immigration status is a bar to receiving Workers Compensation benefits. Many time injured workers are threatened, intimidated, or otherwise provided false information leading them to believe they are not entitled to Workers Compensation benefits. The result is that otherwise compensable injuries go untreated. In addition, other benefits to which an injured worker might be entitled to including Temporary Disability, Permanent Disability, and Supplemental Job Displacement Benefits are lost.

             California law has clearly established that in injured worker may receive Workers Compensation regardless of immigration or citizenship status. This authority may be found in California Labor Code Section 1171.5 which provides:

(a) All protections, rights, and remedies available under state law, except any reinstatement remedy prohibited by federal law, are available to all individuals regardless of immigration status who have applied for employment, or who are or who have been employed, in this state. (Emphasis added)

 

(b) For purposes of enforcing state labor, employment, civil rights, consumer protection, and housing laws, a person’s immigration status is irrelevant to the issue of liability, and in proceedings or discovery undertaken to enforce those state laws no inquiry shall be permitted into a person’s immigration status unless the person seeking to make this inquiry has shown by clear and convincing evidence that the inquiry is necessary in order to comply with federal immigration law. (Emphasis added)

 

(c) The provisions of this section are declaratory of existing law.

(d) The provisions of this section are severable. If any provision of this section or its application is held invalid, that invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application.

 

In 2015 the state legislature enacted California Labor Code Section 3733 which holds:

 (a) The Legislature finds and declares that it is in the best interest of the State of California to provide a person, regardless of his or her citizenship or immigration status, with the benefits provided pursuant to this article, and therefore enacts this section pursuant to Section 1621(d) of Title 8 of the United States Code . (Emphasis added)

 

(b) A person shall not be prohibited from receiving compensation paid or payable from the Uninsured Employers Benefits Trust Fund solely because of his or her citizenship or immigration status. (Emphasis added)

(c) It is the intent of the Legislature to override Section 15740 of Article 1 of Subchapter 2.1.1 of Chapter 8 of Division 1 of Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations.

(d) The provisions of this section are declaratory of existing law.

            Section 3733 was intended as cleanup legislation to address section 15740 of the California Workers Compensation Regulations which prevented unlawful aliens from obtaining Uninsured Employer Benefits in situation where an employer did not have Workers Compensation insurance.

            Do not let fear of your immigration status prevent you from getting the benefits to which you may be entitled. Time is frequently of the essence. By delaying you may lose your rights. If you have questions contact us for a free consultation.