Posted On: September 15, 2009 by Steven J. Malman

Many Low-Wage Workers In Chicago Do Not Have Access To Workers’ Compensation Benefits

According to the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, the Center for Urban Economic Development, and the National Employment Law Project, many low-wage employees are the victims of workplace abuse. One of these abuses is that many of them are denied workers’ compensation benefits even when they are injured on the job.

According to a survey conducted in 2008, of the nearly 4,400 low-wage workers surveyed in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles, only 8% of the participants who sustained work injuries filed claims for workers’ compensation. Only 6% of the injured workers were given benefits to cover their medical bills.

Also, 2/3rds of survey participants say they had experienced some form of wage violation, including getting paid less than the minimum wage or not getting the correct overtime rate (or even any additional payment) for working beyond their shifts.

Immigrants, people of color, and women, as well as workers hired in private residences or in the garment industry, seemed at highest risk of becoming victims of workplace abuse. Examples of positions considered "low-wage" include dishwasher, busboys child care provider, security guard, and textile worker.

Many low-wage workers—especially “front-line” workers—are not natural born citizens. Many of them are in the US illegally. This can place them at the mercy of an employer knows the worker might be too scared to report the abuse.

Workers in the United States have certain rights. Even if you are an undocumented worker who was injured while doing your job, you may be entitled to work Illinois work injury benefits. An experienced Chicago workers’ compensation law firm can help you with your case.

Down and Out, The Washington Post, September 8, 2009

How the Lowest Paid Workers Get Ripped Off, US News, September 3, 2009

Related Web Resources:
Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission

Read the Report (PDF)

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