In yet another blow to undocumented immigrants, Ohio’s House of Representatives approved a new bill that aims to strip them of the right to receive workers’ compensation when they’ve been injured on the job.
There’s significant hope that the bill will not make it all the way through the Ohio Senate.
The measure has not been met with a great deal of support from the public, including business and labor-related groups. Even among politicians, there are those that have questioned whether or not the measure would simply encourage exploitative business owners to hire the undocumented — knowing they wouldn’t have to carry them on their workers’ comp premiums.
That would actually give unethical businesses an edge other businesses wouldn’t have. For example, a contractor could employ mostly undocumented workers and undercut the price of his or her law-abiding competitors by a long shot — since he or she would have less overhead thanks to lower insurance premiums.
That would likely throw the cost of any medical care for seriously injured and uninsured workers back on the state or leave hospitals footing the unpaid bills.
The House bill would still give undocumented workers the right to sue their employers — but only if they can first prove that their employers hired them with full knowledge of their immigration status.
That could be a stiff hurdle for an immigrant to overcome. Many undocumented workers don’t know their rights regarding compensation for workplace accidents and injuries — and their employers certainly aren’t about to educate them.
Those that do know they should be able to receive benefits or have the right to sue may fear reprisals from their employers if they try to collect. A phone call to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) could lead to serious problems for the injured undocumented laborer — victimizing him or her all over again in the name of cheap labor.
If you’re undocumented and you were hurt while on the job — or you’re the surviving family of an undocumented worker killed on the job — it’s a smart idea to seek counsel about all your legal options before you act.
Source: The Columbus Dispatch, “Ohio House passes bill blocking “illegal aliens” from workers’ comp,” Jim Siegel, Dec. 6, 2017