One of the things we’ve mentioned on this blog before is that employers do not always cooperate when it comes to workers’ compensation claims. There are various ways employers can put up roadblocks to a worker receiving appropriate compensation. Among them are using an employee’s suspected citizenship status. Don’t think employers are above this tactic. A recent case shows they aren’t.
This week, the Pennsylvania Supreme ruled that an employer has the burden of proving that an injured worker is an illegal alien. In other words, when an employer accuses an injured worker of being in the country illegally, it is not the worker’s responsibility to prove he or she is a bona fide American.
The ruling stems from a case in which an Ecuadoran trucker filed a workers’ compensation claim after injuring his back on the job in 2008. In his claim, he asked for medical treatment and disability income, but his employer ended up only paying temporary benefits before denying any other benefits.
During a subsequent legal proceeding, the worker refused to answer questions as to whether he was a naturalized citizen, invoking the Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. The court handling the case later ruled that the worker’s refusal to answer the questions did not constitute proof that he was an illegal alien. The end result is that the trucking company is now required to pay the worker the benefits he originally requested.
Injured workers who face opposition from their employer should do themselves a favor and begin working with an experienced attorney who will work to ensure their rights are protected.
Bizpacreview.com, “Here illegally? No Problem in Pennsylvania!,” Don Noel, July 24, 2014.