Don’t look for the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether federal law preempts state laws requiring workers’ comp coverage for employees who are illegal immigrants.
The nation’s highest court recently passed on hearing such a case. The question of illegal immigrants and workers’ comp coverage is now officially up to the states.
This is the case the Supreme Court passed up: Antonio Garcia Rodriguez, an illegal immigrant, was injured while working in Louisiana. He applied for workers’ comp benefits. Various courts all upheld comp benefits for the worker. The employer, Vaughan Sheet Metal & Roofing, appealed to the Supreme Court to settle the matter.
In its appeal, Vaughan noted that there is no general agreement among states on whether the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986 preempts state workers’ comp laws. The IRCA prohibits illegal immigrants from working in the U.S.
Courts in Virginia, Nevada and Michigan have decided that illegal immigrant workers aren’t eligible for workers’ comp benefits when they’re injured.
Opposite rulings have come from courts in Louisiana, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Washington, DC.
Vaughan suggested the Supreme Court establish a precedent which would allow illegal immigrants to receive necessary medical benefits but not wage replacement payments.
Georgia, Montana, New Hampshire and South Carolina are considering legislation which would prohibit illegal immigrants from receiving workers’ comp benefits when they’re injured.
However, if those bills become law, the next question is whether the illegal immigrants could then file civil lawsuits for injuries, since they do not have the “exclusive remedy” of workers’ comp.
Barring illegal immigrants from also filing civil lawsuits might present constitutional questions, according to some legal experts.
What’s the solution when illegal immigrants, employed by a company in the U.S., injure themselves? Let us know what you think in the Comments Box below.