If you are an undocumented worker, you are far from alone. In fact, the American Immigration Council estimates that undocumented workers make up nearly 10% of California’s massive workforce.
Even if you work carefully and wear protective gear, you may eventually sustain a serious injury at your job. Understanding California’s workers’ compensation system is the first step in receiving the financial benefits you need to recover completely.
1. You are eligible for workers’ comp benefits
All workers in California, regardless of immigration status, are eligible for workers’ comp benefits. You should not let your boss, coworkers or anyone else tell you differently.
2. Falsely claiming work authorization is not workers’ comp fraud
Most employers in the U.S. have an obligation to verify the identity and work eligibility of their employees. They do this by examining certain documents and completing I-9 forms.
Falsely claiming to have legal authorization to work in the U.S. may be a problem for other reasons, but it is not workers’ comp fraud. Even if you provided fake documents or made misrepresentations on your I-9 or W-4 forms, you have likely not rendered yourself ineligible for certain workers’ comp benefits.
3. Reinstatement and related benefits may be difficult to obtain
When you apply for workers’ comp benefits, your employer may realize you lack work authorization. If that happens, your employer is apt to terminate your employment immediately to comply with federal law.
Accordingly, if your employer has a valid reason for firing you, you may be ineligible for reinstatement after you recover from your job-related injury. While you likely qualify for medical benefits, you may have a hard time receiving lost wages after your employer knows you lack work authorization.