California is home to many immigrants, and roughly 1.75 million of those immigrants are undocumented. That represents roughly 9% of the state’s workforce.
Many of those undocumented workers rely on seasonal employment to pay their bills, especially in the summer service industry (when folks on vacation start arriving). They also work in the construction and agricultural industries. Not all of those workers are aware of their rights, however, when they get injured on the job.
What does California law require of employers?
It doesn’t matter if you’re seasonal or undocumented. You have a right to workers’ compensation.
Your employer may try to gloss over this fact (or purposefully mislead you), but employers are expected to provide workers’ comp coverage to all their employees – seasonal or otherwise. Even if you just work part time or had just started working when you were injured, you have a right to expect medical coverage, wage replacement benefits and more.
In addition, California is one of the states that specifically requires employers to cover undocumented immigrants under their workers’ compensation insurance. Your employer may not use your immigration status against you to try to avoid their responsibilities – nor may they retaliate against you by calling Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or by any other means.
California has always been progressive about human rights, but asserting those rights isn’t always easy when you’re an undocumented immigrant doing seasonal work. You may be afraid of what will happen if you press your claim – but you have every right to those benefits.
Don’t let fear keep you from the medical treatment you need or the money your family needs for their stability. If your employer reacts with resistance to your workers’ comp claim, find out more about your legal options.