The Ohio Senate is considering passing a bill that precludes workers’ compensation coverage for immigrants in the country illegally. Currently, Ohio law covers all employees injured on the job, notwithstanding their country of origin or whether the employee is in the country legally.
The proposed Senate Bill 238 would require all injured workers to submit their driver’s license, passport or other proof of citizenship before receiving any workers’ compensation payments within 28 days of filing the claim. Failure to do so would prohibit any payments, including compensation and medical.
The proposed bill, however, provides that where an employer hires the employee with knowledge of the employee’s illegal status, the employee would have a right to sue the employer in common pleas court for damages arising from the injury.
Currently, the states of Idaho, Florida, Michigan and Wyoming all prohibit workers’ compensation coverage for illegal immigrants.
If this bill passes, agricultural workers, restaurant workers and other employees in this state that are undocumented would be precluded from payments for lost earnings, medical benefits, etc. due to an on the job injury due to no fault of their own. Those injuries would no longer be covered resulting in devastating economic hardship to already economically disadvantaged employees. In addition, as the Dayton Daily News reports, in quoting immigration attorney David Leopold, “more employers would have an incentive to hire undocumented workers because their injuries would not be counted against them when calculating workers’ compensation premiums.” Thus, by focusing on punishing the worker as opposed to enforcing existing laws, the bill would not make Ohio safer nor “curb illegal immigration in Ohio.” Thus, this bill would work to do the opposite of its purported intent: to encourage employers to hire undocumented workers.
As with the law recently passed by the state of Arizona, this bill punishes the individual rather than attempting to build national consensus on how to deal with this important social issue.
The attorneys at Gallon Takacs Boissoneault & Schaffer have helped hundreds of undocumented workers receive compensation, medical benefits and rehabilitation for on-the-job injuries. We are committed to representing those injured on the job, regardless of citizenship status. Should you have any questions as to whether you have coverage for injury or disease, please call us, toll-free, at 1-567-455-5470 or visit us at www.gallonlaw.com