Can “Illegal Aliens” Get Workers’ Comp?
State law protects anyone injured on the job.
There is much talk these days of building walls and deporting people. Much resentment of immigrants and “foreigners.” Especially those living in the U.S. without government permission.
This is a scary time for undocumented workers. Especially for an “illegal” worker who is injured on the job. Reporting an accident to the employer, asserting legal rights or even going to the hospital risks calling attention to the worker’s immigration status.
The law is clear in Louisiana. Undocumented employees are covered by workers’ compensation. You have the right to medical care and lost wages. Whether you are a U.S. citizen or not, it is wise to talk to a workers’ compensation lawyer.
Yes, “illegal” workers are covered by workers’ compensation
The Louisiana workers’ compensation statute does not mention immigration status. The law says that “a natural person who is paid compensation in return for the performance of services” is an employee. In other words, if you give a person a job and benefit from their labor, you have ALL the responsibilities of an employer, including workers’ comp coverage.
Some employers have challenged that definition. In a 1996 court case (Artiga v. M.A. Patout) the Louisiana Court of Appeals affirmed that illegal aliens are considered employees under the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act.
Workers’ compensation covers your medical expenses for a job-related injury. It pays your lost wages until you can return to work. These are your rights. Your employer cannot fire you or threaten to call immigration officials to prevent you from filing a workers’ comp claim. That is retaliation and it is against the law.
Non-citizens do face challenges, such as permanent disability claims or third-party lawsuits. Find a workers’ compensation lawyer who will fight for your rights regardless of your immigration status.