Given that Florida is one of the southernmost states in the country, most people aren’t surprised to learn that there are undocumented workers in the state of Florida performing jobs for major businesses. Quite a few companies will look the other way when hiring workers using someone else’s Social Security information to secure employment, even working with staff who have no documentation whatsoever.
These companies all too often treat undocumented workers as though they are disposable, especially if they eventually need the benefits afforded to other employees. When undocumented workers get hurt and can no longer perform the duties of their job, the company might fire them or threaten them in order to keep them from seeking the workers’ compensation benefits that they should receive.
In most cases, workers have a right to workers’ compensation benefits regardless of their documentation status. However, a specific Florida rule sometimes lets employers try to game the system after hiring undocumented workers and keeps many workers afraid of asserting their rights after a workplace injury.
Some companies and insurers claim undocumented workers commit fraud
There is a specific statute that employers and workers’ compensation insurance companies refer to when they attempt to deny benefits to undocumented workers or seek immigration enforcement against them in what is clearly an act of retaliation.
Changes made to the Florida laws that govern workers’ compensation in 2003 sought to penalize those who fraudulently seek benefits they should not receive, such as those who stage a workplace accident or fake an injury. Undocumented workers who did get hurt on the job but secured that job through the use of someone else’s documentation have previously faced threats by their employer or even by an insurance company as a means of denying them their benefits.
Companies have wrongfully terminated undocumented workers who got hurt on the job, reported them to immigration officials or even sought their arrest or deportation, all for claiming benefits that the company should provide to workers, regardless of their immigration status.
If you or someone you love has worked as an undocumented employee and now needs workers’ compensation benefits, learning more about your rights and taking proactive steps to protect them will probably be in your best interests.