Workers are the backbone of any company. They put in the hard day’s effort and perform the day-to-day tasks that help to make a company and its shareholders successful. So, when employees suffer injuries on the job, it’s only fair that they receive payment for their medical care as well as other workers’ compensation benefits.
But what happens when the worker is one of the estimated 100,000 undocumented residents of South Carolina? Even though it is illegal to knowingly hire an undocumented worker under the Immigration Reform and Control Act, statistics show that employers in our state and across the country do it all of the time. In fact, undocumented workers account for 5.1 percent of our country’s labor force, according to The State.
Do these undocumented workers have any right to collect workers’ compensation benefits in South Carolina if they get hurt on the job?
South Carolina Law Protects Injured Undocumented Workers
The short answer is, yes. South Carolina is among a group of 13 states – including nearby Florida, Georgia and North Carolina – who have laws on their books that protect the rights of undocumented workers to be compensated for their work injuries.
These laws recognize the inherent unfairness that would result if employers could avoid responsibility for a work injury by simply hiring illegal aliens. Allowing employers to skirt payment of workers’ compensation benefits to undocumented workers actually would create a financial incentive for them to hire those without legal status. It could potentially lead to the exploitation of undocumented workers.
Section 42-1-130 of the South Carolina Code expressly defines an “employee” as a category that includes “aliens . . . whether lawfully or unlawfully employed[.]”
So, if you are employee – whether documented or undocumented – you should qualify for workers’ compensation benefits if you get hurt on the job in South Carolina (assuming you meet all other requirements). The protections are the same for all workers – even workers who may have used forged documents when they applied for a job. The duty to carry workers’ compensation insurance and comply with the claims process is the same for all employers as well.
How Can Our Workers’ Comp Attorneys Help You?
A workers’ compensation lawyer at Land, Parker & Welch, P.A., can help you to prove your work injury and fight for the compensation that you deserve – even if you are an undocumented resident. We know how some employers try to take advantage of vulnerable immigrants who lack proper documentation. Rather than help these workers to get the workers’ comp benefits they deserve, these employers may pressure them or threaten them with deportation or termination. We will protect your rights.
With decades of professional service to our community, our attorneys are dedicated to serving those in need in Manning and surrounding areas in South Carolina. As a full-service law firm, we will help with all your legal needs. To learn more, contact us today and receive a free and confidential consultation.