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Can I Still Sue if I am an Undocumented Worker?

If you or a loved one is “undocumented” in the United States, you still have the right to sue in a court of law. The Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution grants us the right to not have our life, liberty, or property taken away without a fair trial. The Fourteenth Amendment also guarantees you the same protection under the law, even if you are undocumented.

It’s estimated that there are over 500,000 undocumented immigrants in New York City. If you or your loved one are undocumented, then you are one of the thousands of undocumented workers across our city who often find themselves working in such industries as restaurants, janitorial, construction, and the domestic service industries. As such, generally you are protected by federal, state, and local employment laws.

Currently, the federal minimum wage for covered nonexempt employees is $7.25 per hour. In New York City, the minimum wage is $13.50 per hour for companies with 10 or less workers and $15.00 per hour for companies with over 10 employees. It’s also important to note that employees who receive tips as part of their employment may be paid a lower minimum wage. The amount of this so-called “tip credit” is established on a state by state basis.

The Fair Labor Standards Act, (FLSA) sets forth federal wage laws and covers all employees who participate in interstate commerce, or who work for a business with at least two employees and total sales of $500,000.00.

New York labor law defines an employee as any individual employed or permitted to work by an employer in any occupation, although some occupations are excluded from this law. Because of the labor laws in New York, undocumented workers are entitled to the same minimum wage and overtime pay as any other worker.

In addition to the minimum wage and overtime laws, federal and state governments and many local governments, including New York City, prohibit any employer from discriminating against employees based on their race, sex, age, religion, disability and national origin, just to name a few.

Federal, state, and city anti-discrimination laws do not contain any exception or exclusion for undocumented workers. While your employer may hire undocumented workers, they are not allowed to discriminate against them.

New York City is also a so-called “sanctuary city” meaning it limits its cooperation with the federal immigration authorities. Furthermore, if you are an undocumented immigrant, you may have the ability to receive a municipal ID card, so you have identification.

If you are an undocumented worker, you also must pay taxes on your pay.  You can get a tax ID number from the IRS and pay your taxes to the IRS and the City and State of New York.  If you do not pay your taxes it is difficult to claim lost wages if you are injured and cannot work or if you are discriminated against.

If you are an undocumented worker and are injured while performing your job, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits and be allowed to make a claim for your work injury.

Workers’ compensation pays for medical care and can provide disability coverage, so you would be able to recover lost wages if your disability prevents you from doing your job.

As an undocumented worker, you should know what you are entitled to as far as legal protections. Employers cannot retaliate against you, and you cannot be turned down for a work injury claim if you are an undocumented worker.

If you’ve suffered an on the job injury at your job or faced some form of illegal retaliation, you are well within your legal rights to speak to one of our experienced New York workplace accident attorneys at Greenberg & Stein.

After going over the details of your case, we will walk you step-by-step through the process and ensure that you hold all legally responsible parties accountable, and we will fight to ensure you reserve the justice you deserve, regardless of your immigration status.

What sets Greenberg & Stein apart from other firms is our devotion to client satisfaction with our personalized service — no matter how big or small the case.

Don’t delay, speak to one of our workplace accident attorneys here at Greenberg & Stein right away to discuss whether your case might qualify for additional compensation. Call us today at 888-411-3966 to schedule your free consultation.