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Whenever an employee suffers a work-related injury or illness, they can file a workers’ compensation claim. However, for undocumented immigrants, filing a workers’ comp claim can become an overwhelming process due to their fears of having any possible legal repercussions or having their immigration status exposed.

Nevertheless, we remind everyone that labor laws and regulations protect all workers, regardless of their immigration status. In this blog article, we want to explain the labor rights of undocumented immigrants here in the U.S. and the laws and regulations that protect them in workers’ compensation cases.

These are the employment rights undocumented immigrants have

Let’s start off with the fact that undocumented immigrants are entitled to the same workers’ rights as U.S. citizens and legal residents. This includes the right to a fair wage, safe working conditions, and protection against workplace harassment and discrimination. That being said, undocumented immigrants also have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim if they suffer work-related injuries or illnesses.

Despite any fear or hesitance undocumented immigrants may have in filing a claim, they should seek legal advice from a workers’ comp attorney. Why? A lawyer can provide legal advice on what steps to take and how they can file a workers’ comp claim without having any further problems down the road.

What are the Laws and Regulations that protect undocumented workers?

There are several laws and regulations at the federal and state levels that protect undocumented workers in workers’ compensation cases. At the federal level, there is the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Under the FLSA, all employees are covered with workers’ rights regardless of their legal status.

For example, in 2011, a federal court ruled that the FLSA applies to anyone hired by an employer, based on the FLSA’s definition of “employer.” What this ruling means is the FLSA’s interpretation contains no exceptions or exclusions for those workers who don’t have legal status.

On the other hand, on a federal level, the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) requires employers to provide a safe work environment for all employees, regardless of their immigration status. Not meeting these requirements may have serious consequences for employers.

At a state level, there are certain regulations that protect undocumented workers in workers’ compensation cases. For example, some states have laws that prohibit employment discrimination based on immigration status and ensure they have access to workers’ compensation. There are also state workers’ compensation programs that offer protection to undocumented workers, even if they are not covered by federal workers’ compensation.

In the state of Georgia, undocumented workers may receive temporary total disability (TTD) benefits if they are not authorized to go back to work by an authorized physician or if their employer cannot place them on light-duty work restrictions. Undocumented workers may also receive temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits if they can return to their previous job and earn a lower wage, but this usually depends on the employer’s capabilities to provide them with other “lighter” tasks.

In summary, undocumented workers have a right to file a workers’ comp claim, regardless of their legal status, and cannot be fired by doing so.

Here are some tips undocumented workers should follow while filing a workers’ compensation claim

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At Castan & Lecca, we have more than 20 years of experience in labor and immigration law, so we are more than qualified to assist you in your workers’ compensation process. We remind all undocumented immigrants that they have the same worker rights as U.S. citizens.

However, we know you might feel afraid of any legal repercussions and might not be completely aware of how this process works. That is why we’re going to provide you with some tips to file a workers’ comp claim as an undocumented worker:

  1.  Seek legal advice from a specialized attorney. As an undocumented worker, it’s important to be guided by an attorney specialized in workers’ comp cases to help you correctly file a claim. An experienced lawyer can provide you with accurate information about the laws and regulations that protect you, eliminating any fear and questions you may have.  
  2.   Gather evidence. If you gather enough evidence that shows you were injured or got sick on the job, you may have a greater chance of success in getting your claim approved. Proof that can back up your case includes medical reports, photos of the accident scene and your injuries, testimonials, and contact information of witnesses.
  3.   Be completely honest in your claim. When you’re filing your claim, try to be as accurate and honest as possible. Any false or misleading information you provide can damage your case and credibility.
  4.   Do not sign anything without having an attorney present. Whether you’re signing to accept an offer, or putting your John Hancock on wavering your legal rights, always have an attorney by your side. They can explain to you what exactly you are signing and if you should do so or not.
  5.   Don’t ever give up. Filing a workers’ compensation claim can be a long and challenging process. But if you feel like it’s going nowhere or your claim has been rejected for some reason, please don’t give up. If necessary, discuss your options with an attorney to see how your process can be sped up and be successful.

If you are considering filing a workers’ compensation claim and need legal assistance, contact us at Castan & Lecca to schedule a free consultation. Our experience in workers’ compensation cases, as well as our willingness to help out our clients, can provide you with the peace of mind that we’re taking the right steps to file your claim and get your benefits.

(864)761-4141

MICHAEL BOESCHEN

Attorney

Michael Boeschen (Mike) was born in Wichita, KS and raised in Chattanooga, TN. Mike graduated from The McCallie School and went on to study history, Spanish, and Latin American Studies at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX. After graduation, he went on to pursue a law degree from the University Of Georgia School Of Law. During law school, Mike participated in the Legal Aid Clinic, assisting in the defense of indigent criminal defendants. Mike has been licensed to practice law in Georgia since 2002 and his main practice area consists of representing injured workers as they navigate through the Georgia workers’ compensation system. Mike is also fluent in Spanish. In his spare time Mike enjoys following soccer, cooking, and spending time with his wife and two young daughters. Mike and his family are parishioners of the Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Sandy Springs, GA

CHRISTIAN PECONE

Attorney

ED DENKER

Attorney

Edward Denker was born in Philadelphia, PA but has made Georgia his home since 1999. He graduated from the Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelor’s degree in liberal arts. He then earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Georgia. Edward spent his first years in practice representing clients in personal injury and wrongful death claims. He then spent more than a decade honing his litigation skills representing employers and insurers in workers’ compensation claims, where he gained immense experience and knowledge of how insurers defend those claims. In 2017, Edward returned to his passion of representing people who have been injured at work or through the negligence of others. When he isn’t working, Edward enjoys spending time with his wife and their two children. He is also an avid sports fan, and enjoys cooking and travel

ILIANA DOBREV

Attorney

Iliana Dobrev was born in Bulgaria. After high school, she immigrated to the United States to study law. She graduated magna cum laude from Georgia State University with a Bachelor’s in political science concentrating on pre-law and minoring in Spanish. In 2015, she graduated from Georgia State University College of Law. While in law school, Iliana completed a Graduate Research Assistantship in Labor and Employment Law and Employment Discrimination and two externships in Immigration Law. As an immigrant herself, Iliana is passionate about advocating for and defending immigrants. She is delighted to help families stay together and pursue the American dream. Iliana is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and worked in both a fellowship and a firm specializing in immigration law. Iliana is fluent in Bulgarian and Spanish

KEN THAXTON

Attorney

Ken Thaxton was born and raised in Roberta, GA. When Ken was a child, his father started a trucking business, which Ken ultimately spent over ten years working with through his late teens and twenties. Ken graduated from Houston County High School in Warner Robins, GA in 2001 with a 4.0 GPA. He then studied Business and Information Technology at Macon State College, ultimately graduating with a 4.0 GPA in 2004. After graduation, Ken continued to work with his father’s trucking company, and in late 2005, Ken and his father started an aircraft charter company, Southern Jet, Inc., under Part 135 of the Federal Aviation Regulations. Ken served as President of Southern Jet from 2006 until 2010, when he and his father sold the company. Ken is a Commercially Licensed Instrument, Multi-Engine Pilot. While serving as President of Southern Jet, Ken started Law School at the University of Georgia School of Law in 2009. Ken focused primarily on business and civil law, including Workers’ Compensation, while at UGA. He graduated Cum Laude and in the top 25% of his class from UGA Law in 2012. Ken is a licensed to practice law in the State of Georgia, and he is also a licensed neutral (mediator) in the State of Georgia. Ken represents small businesses in transactional matters and business conflicts, and he also represents injured workers and Plaintiffs injured in cases of negligence. During his spare time, Ken enjoys swimming, cycling, sporting clays, and fishing. He also does charity work with a national scholarship fund

ALEXANDER LECCA

Attorney

Alexander Lecca (Alex) was born in Miami, Florida to immigrant parents from Cuba and Peru. Alex graduated from Coral Gables High School, where he was a recipient of the Elsa Glazer Award (given to students who graduate with a 3.5 GPA and above). He went on to study marketing at the University of Miami School of Business Administration. At the University of Miami he was also a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. After graduation, he went on to pursue a law degree from St. Thomas University School of Law. In law school, Alex received several book awards and graduated Cum Laude. During law school Alex clerked for the Honorable Beth Bloom, had an internship with the Miami-Dade County Public Defender’s office, and clerked for a prestigious litigation law firm. Alex is licensed to practice law in both Georgia and Florida and handles workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. He is also a registered mediator with the Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution. Alex is also fluent in Spanish. During his spare time, Alex enjoys outdoor activities with his wife and four children. He also helps coach his children’s baseball, football, basketball, and soccer teams. Alex and his family are parishioners of St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church

DANIEL CASTAN 

Attorney

Dan Castan is a senior partner at Castan and Lecca, PC in Buckhead and represents injured workers before the State Board of Workers’ Compensation and plaintiffs in State and Superior Courts of Georgia for injuries suffered in accidents. Dan litigated one of the seminal claims securing the rights of undocumented workers to receive Workers’ Compensation benefits in the state of Georgia when injured in the case of Wet Walls, Inc. vs. Ledesma. Dan has successfully fought and settled multi million dollar cases. He was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey to immigrant parents from Cuba. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Boston College and received his Juris Doctor from The Washington College of Law at The American University in Washington D.C.  Dan was admitted to the Georgia Bar in November, 1993.  He is an active member of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Georgia Trial Lawyers Association, Atlanta Bar Association and the Workers’ Compensation Section of the State Bar of Georgia. Dan is a founding member and Director of the Latino Victory Fund Georgia and serves on the Board of The Latin American Association. Dan has been dedicated to getting Latinos elected to local, state and Federal offices in Georgia. He has been a Big Brother through Big Brothers and Sisters of Metro Atlanta and a mentor through The Latin American Association’s mentor/mentee program. Dan is married with two children.