If you are an employee in North Carolina, you deserve a safe workplace regardless of your immigration status. The state’s Workers’ Compensation Act covers those who employers have hired lawfully and unlawfully, and also applies to “aliens.”
Immigrants perform some of North Carolina’s most dangerous jobs, such as those in the agriculture and construction industry. This can make undocumented workers particularly vulnerable to work-related injuries. If you are an undocumented employee hurt on the job, you may receive workers’ compensation. Still, you probably have questions.
What benefits can I receive?
Your benefits can cover your medical bills and help make up for wages lost due to the injury. If a serious injury prevents you from returning to work, you may receive disability benefits.
Can my boss fire me for filing?
Retaliation is unlawful. Your employer may not fire you, demote you or create a hostile environment because you file a workers’ compensation claim.
Can my employer initiate deportation?
If your employer looks into your immigration status after you file for workers’ compensation, that may be a case of retaliation. As stated above, retaliation is illegal.
What if my employer denies my claim?
Your employer may dispute your claim. Unethical employers may think that they can intimidate workers who do not speak English well. Agriculture employers may stall because you are about to move on to another job in another state. Construction companies may try to disqualify you from benefits by saying you are an independent contractor rather than an employee.
However, courts have seen these tactics before and shot them down. An initial denial is not final. You have the right to appeal.