Posted On: December 23, 2008 by Steven J. Malman

Undocumented Workers are Entitled to Illinois Workers’ Compensation Benefits, Says State Appeals Court

The llinois’ 1st Judicial District Appellate Court says that Illegal immigrants who are injured on the job are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits even though they are not legally allowed to work in the United States. The state appeals’ court’s ruling is in accordance with the rulings issued by appeals courts in other US states that hold that the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 does not prevent undocumented workers from receiving work benefits if they are injured on the job.

According to Economy Packing Co. v. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, Mexican national Ramona Navarro got hurt during a slip accident when she was working on an assembly line in May 2002. Through arbitration, she was awarded $147/week for 60 weeks for her temporary total disability. She was also awarded permanent total disability benefits at $371/week for the remainder of her life.

The arbitrator determined that Navarro was an “odd-lot” worker, meaning that her disabilities, coupled with her limited skills, would keep her from finding work in the future. To qualify for permanent disability benefits as an “odd-lot” worker, the injured worker must show that age, experience, education, or training prevents her from obtaining work.

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission and a trial court agreed with the arbitrator. However, Economy Packing Co. appealed the decision. The company said that undocumented workers can never be employed whether or not they have disabilities because they are not allowed to work in the US.

The Illinois appeals court disagreed with Economy Packing. The court found that even though Navarro cannot legally work in the US, she could have obtained work outside the country if she hadn’t suffered her permanent disability injuries.

A catastrophic or permanent injury sustained during an Illinois work accident could prevent you from being able to work in the future and support your family. If you are an illegal alien who was injured on the job while working in Illinois or another US state, do not be afraid to explore your legal options for compensation.

Ruling Allows Comp Benefits for Undocumented Immigrant, Workforce Management, December 16, 2008

Read the Court's Opinion (PDF)

Related Web Resources:

Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission

Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986

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