Undocumented workers in the United States worry daily about the threat of deportation, and this concern often leads to a fear of filing claims for relief due to workplace injuries. The good news is that New York State and the federal government have laws in place that protect undocumented workers from retaliation by their employers. These laws bar threats of deportation, and it is illegal for an employer to report someone to Immigration and Customs Enforcement as punishment for a workplace injury claim. While the threat of deportation is always there, it cannot legally come from the employer of an undocumented worker who was injured on the job.
Laws protecting undocumented workers
People working illegally in the United States are still protected by laws regarding wages and union participation, and they can file workers' compensation claims if they are injured on the job. Employers cannot fire undocumented workers simply because they file claims based on workplace injuries. They also cannot use that claim as a basis for contacting immigration officials, as doing so is considered illegal retaliation against the worker. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and other federal and state agencies take violations of undocumented workers' rights seriously. Employers who break the law by retaliating against injured workers can face serious legal consequences for doing so.
Is deportation still a possibility?
Deportation is always a possibility for someone who is in the United States illegally. While employers cannot legally report an undocumented worker in retaliation for an injury claim, there is the possibility that someone else will make an anonymous call to Immigration and Customs Enforcement and file a report of an illegal immigrant. Given the risk of removal that undocumented workers face each day, the slight possibility of someone making that call should not stop them from pursuing their rights.
While the decision to file any type of claim is a difficult one for undocumented workers to make, there are protections in place to stop employers from punishing these workers if they are injured on the job. It is the legal right of these workers to take advantage of the protections the government offers them. If you are an undocumented worker and you believe you may have been retaliated against for filing a personal injury claim, contact an experienced attorney who can protect your rights.