For many people who desire to live the “American dream,” achieving that dream means moving to the United States as illegal immigrants. Florida is home to several immigrants, both documented and undocumented. According to the American Immigration Council, more than one in five residents of the state are immigrants.
The council further states that more than 425,000 Florida citizens live with an undocumented family member. Immigrant workers, both documented and undocumented, work in several industries. Undocumented immigrants in the United States, according to Statista, made up 14.2% of the agricultural industry and 12.3% of the construction industry in 2017.
In Florida, most undocumented immigrants work in the agricultural industry, picking oranges. These workers are prone to work injuries. But their illegal residency often raises the question of their eligibility for workers’ compensation. Our Miami workers’ comp lawyers will provide an answer to this all-important question. We can also represent you in your work comp claim.
Florida Workers’ Compensation Law and Undocumented Workers
Before we look at Florida’s legal standing on workers’ comp, let’s define an undocumented worker. An undocumented employee is a foreign national who lives and works in the United States without legal immigration status. Thus, being undocumented means that the person failed to obtain the proper permission, residency, and work permit.
A person can also become undocumented if they had a legal work visa, and it expires without renewal. So, can a person without a legal right to live and work in the United get compensated for a work-related injury? Let’s find out.
In Florida, the workers’ compensation law provides that employers with four or more employees must purchase a work comp insurance policy. Employers in the construction industry must have insurance if they have one or more employees. The coverage handles the medical bills and payment of lost wages for anyone with a work-related injury or illness.
Under Florida Statute 440.02, an employee is an individual who gets remunerated for their work, whether it is lawful or unlawful employment. The law also extends to minors and aliens. Therefore, a Florida employer who engages an undocumented individual cannot rely on the illegality of their residency to deny them compensation.
When an employer decides to hire an undocumented worker, they are liable for the injury or illness resulting from their job duties. In summary, the only things the law considers are:
- The employer has an active workers’ compensation insurance policy
- The injured person is an employee of the company
- The injury or illness is work-related
Once the three exist, the employee is entitled to get the compensation. But as we often see in legal practice, employers terminate undocumented employees once they get ill or suffer injury. This act denies the worker of their entitlements, and employers often get away with it because the employee is scared of deportation. It is always wise to contact a Miami work comp lawyer when sacked for seeking workers’ compensation.
Do Undocumented Workers Get Lost Wages?
Undocumented workers do not have social security numbers due to the illegal nature of their residency. Thus, there’s no social security for them to report their wages on. In Florida, the workers’ compensation law requires all employers to report salaries or wages for federal income tax purposes. It also qualifies as income for social security benefits.
Thus, since employers do not report undocumented workers’ earnings due to their lack of social security numbers, there is no listed income. Due to the latter, an undocumented worker can only get medical benefits and no lost wages. Furthermore, an undocumented worker can lose their work comp benefit if they falsify social security numbers.
It is a horrible decision to do the preceding, so avoid doing so. Even if your employer chooses to look the other way at first, they might eventually report you to the authorities to get out of paying you workers’ comp. If your employer threatens you with deportation as an undocumented worker, speak with a workers’ compensation lawyer in Miami immediately. Note that even when faced with deportation, you are still entitled to your benefits.
Are You an Immigrant Worker? Let Miami Lawyers 360 Help You!
Generally, getting workers’ compensation benefits is not an overly complicated process. But things become tricky when you are an undocumented immigrant worker. However, just because your residency is illegal does not mean you should get cheated by an unscrupulous employer.
At Miami Lawyers 360, our work comp attorneys have the experience needed to represent you and get you what you deserve. Don’t delay in getting the help you need. Contact us today for a free consultation.