After a job injury, undocumented workers must partner with a New York workers’ compensation lawyer. Federal and state labor laws are in place to protect these employees, but understanding how and when those laws apply and fighting to ensure they are upheld can be challenging.
Are undocumented workers protected under New York State or federal law?
It is illegal for employers to hire undocumented workers knowingly, but it is also unlawful for employers to discriminate against potential hires based on race or national origin. Once employed, undocumented workers have rights and protections under federal and state laws. Many of these rights are often misunderstood or even unknown by those who benefit from these laws. This lack of understanding and knowledge leaves workers at risk for unfair treatment and exploitation.
If you are an undocumented worker facing an injury or other work-related situation, partner with an experienced attorney who can work to reach a favorable end while protecting your employment and rights.
Will an undocumented employee who files workers’ comp be deported?
Filing for workers’ compensation benefits does not involve immigration authorities. Further, the New York Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) has joined the New York State’s push to protect undocumented workers during labor disputes.
When filing your claim, it is best to speak with a New York City undocumented workers’ comp attorney. Though retaliation is illegal, unhappy employers may still attempt to punish employees by contacting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Your attorney will know how to approach your workers’ comp claim and protect you from immigration consequences.
How can an attorney for undocumented worker injuries in New York help you?
Because The Weinstein Law Group sees clients as people, not just case numbers, you can count on us to treat you with respect and recognize the unique qualities of your case. We know every worker and every employer is different, and the unique circumstances of your workers’ comp case require a customized strategy.
Our team will:
- Conduct a thorough investigation of your accident, gathering evidence to support your claim.
- Consult with your medical team and other relevant experts to understand the severity of your injury and its prognosis.
- Put our extensive legal knowledge, skill, and experience into every aspect of your case.
- Negotiate boldly with other parties involved to secure the highest compensation possible.
- Provide support and regular communication throughout the process. We return every phone call and will answer all your questions.
- Consult with immigration experts to navigate your situation carefully and avoid any immigration “triggers.”
- Empower you with an understanding of your legal rights and protections
The sooner you connect with us, the better. With prompt access to your case, we can offer you legal guidance. Strong evidence is essential for a successful outcome, and early contact allows us to collect evidence while it is still available.
What federal laws protect undocumented workers?
Issues concerning undocumented workers, including wages, work hours, discrimination, and union membership are all addressed under federal labor laws. These laws also protect undocumented workers’ rights, such as reporting and collecting compensation for a work injury.
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
The protections of the FLSA, overseen by the United States Department of Labor (DOL), apply to anyone employed by an employer according to the FLSA’s definition of the term “employers.” All employees, including undocumented ones, are covered under the FLSA, and all workers have the right to be paid minimum wage (at least). In addition, they must be paid time-and-a-half for every hour worked beyond 40 hours per week.
National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)
This law is governed by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Its main purpose is to protect the right of employees, whether citizens or undocumented, to organize and negotiate with employers. As stated by the NLRB, “immigration status is not relevant as to whether there has been a violation of the NLRA.”
The NRLA allows workers to form unions, which are labor organizations made up of employees or represent the employees-at-large. Typically, unions engage in collective bargaining negotiations with employers about:
- Work hours and wages
- Labor disputes or grievances
- Working conditions
With some exceptions, undocumented employers can create, work with, join (or refuse to join) labor organizations under the NLRA. They are also protected from an employer’s unfair labor practices, which include Interfering with unions, refusing to participate in collective bargaining, or discriminating against or firing a worker because that worker filed a complaint or gave testimony against the employer.
Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VII
This Act, referred to as “Title VII” for matters of employment, also protects both citizens and undocumented workers. It is part of the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Under it, workers have the right not to face discrimination by their employers for “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin” for matters of hiring or firing, compensation, and conditions and terms of employment. Both documented and undocumented workers enjoy the same protection from discrimination by employment agencies and labor unions.
Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Workers Protection Act (MSPA)
Migrant and seasonal workers also have protection under this federal law, overseen by the Department of Labor (DOL). They have the right to receive payments as promised by their employers. Further, employees must not be expected to buy supplies or equipment necessary to complete the work from their employers as a condition of their employment.
Workers have the right to receive information about their wages and working conditions in writing and in a language they understand. Finally, they have the right to safe housing and transportation if the employer provides these components.
Does New York State provide protections and workers’ compensation to undocumented workers?
New York State has recently announced efforts by the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) to increase protections for undocumented workers “from retaliation and removal during labor disputes.” The NYSDOL and U.S. Department of Homeland Security are working to give undocumented workers temporary protection from “prosecution and potential removal,” along with provisions that allow them to work legally in the country if they are involved in NYSDOL investigations.
These efforts are intended to support undocumented who are injured at work but are afraid to pursue workers’ compensation. Many undocumented workers may collect benefits under Article 2, Section 17 of New York’s workers’ compensation statute.
Workers’ compensation benefits include:
- Full medical costs to treat injuries as long as an authorized provider gives that treatment
- Weekly cash payments to support workers as they lose income during recovery time
- Death benefits payable to specific surviving family members
The weekly payments equal two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly income multiplied by the “percentage” of the disability. Complex formulas determine this percentage, making it vital to seek representation from an experienced attorney for undocumented worker injuries.
New York State’s Human Rights Law also offers protections for all workers. When federal, state, or local laws overlap or present a conflict, employers must comply with the law providing workers with the greatest protection.
Can an employer fire or retaliate against an undocumented worker for filing workers’ comp?
Employers may not fire or retaliate against employees who file for workers’ compensation benefits. That said, it still happens, and undocumented workers are more likely to face this sort of discrimination as employers may threaten to report their illegal status to authorities.
However, employers are not required to keep your job for you if your injury prevents you from working, and filling your role is necessary to keep the business going. Employers may use this exception as an excuse to fire you or use threats of reporting to keep you from filing your workers’ compensation claim. The Weinstein Law Group, PLLC knows workers’ compensation laws and the laws in place to protect undocumented workers. We will stand by your side and fight to uphold your rights.
Other forms of retaliation are illegal, including if the employer punishes you for filing a claim or reporting a labor law violation. The U.S. DOL lists cuts in pay, longer hours, withdrawal of earned privileges, increased supervision, and other behaviors as illegal retaliatory actions. An undocumented workers’ comp attorney in New York City will work to protect you from retaliatory acts and hold employers accountable.
Contact The Weinstein Law Group today
Act now to connect with a New York City undocumented workers’ compensation attorney. The Weinstein Law Group is ready to put the full strength of its resources, knowledge, and experience into securing compensation and protecting your rights. After a work injury, you need to concentrate on recovering. Let us help.
While you work on healing, The Weinstein Law Group, PLLC will manage all the legalities of your case, working to get you the compensation you deserve. Reach out today with a call to (212) 741-3800 or by sending a message, and we will review your case for free.