Blog > Greenberg & Stein > Undocumented Construction Workers’ Rights After Injury

Undocumented Construction Workers’ Rights After Injury

Construction is considered one of the most dangerous professions because there are serious risks of bodily injury or death. According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), nearly 6.5 million people in the United States work on construction sites on a daily basis, and the fatal injury rate is higher than the national average.

Nationwide reports indicate that in some states, nearly half of all construction workers are considered undocumented. As the economy continues to improve, and more construction projects are granted permits, more undocumented workers will be hired on construction sites. As a result, there is a greater risk of injury at work for undocumented workers.

What rights do undocumented workers have if injured on a construction site? Read the full article to learn everything you need to know about the rights of undocumented construction workers.

New York Legal Rights for Undocumented Workers

Can undocumented workers sue for personal injury? In New York, undocumented workers are granted the same rights as workers with work permits, visas, green cards and who are American citizens. There is no grey area. All workers (documented or undocumented) who are injured on a construction site have the same rights under New York State Labor Law and are entitled to the same benefits under New York Workers’ Compensation Law.

Unfortunately, in many circumstances, employers attempt to lie about the law to trick undocumented workers into not applying for Workers’ Compensation benefits or consulting a lawyer about their injuries. This is illegal for the employer to do. Sometimes, employers tell undocumented workers working on construction sites in New York that they are not entitled to workers’ compensation. Even worse, some employers may resort to dirty tactics by threatening undocumented workers with deportation if they report a work-related injury. This is also illegal.

Sadly, these types of threats cause many undocumented workers to avoid reporting workplace injuries because they fear deportation. The construction company had no problem hiring undocumented workers off the books (and usually at lower wages), yet fail to assume responsibility or legal obligation to the same workers if one is injured on the job. This is why New York Law protects undocumented workers the same way it protects documented workers and citizens.

Undocumented Workers Face Higher Odds of Workplace Injuries

Did you know that undocumented workers employed by construction companies face a higher chance of getting injured on the job? What reasons drive these higher rates of injury? Oftentimes, undocumented workers are assigned more dangerous duties at construction sites. Also, because they are undocumented, many of these workers feel that they have to take any job offered to them, no matter if it is safe or not.

Unfortunately, undocumented workers are commonly told to do things that employers know they could not legally demand of union workers. Additionally, undocumented workers may not receive proper training or safety instructions because of language barriers or difficulty registering for courses. This is another key component of employer negligence. This is why New York law makes the owner of the site and the general contractor responsible for the safety of the workers and the law does not require that a worker disobey an unsafe directive from their boss to be able to make a claim or file a lawsuit.

Balbuena vs. IDR Realty

The New York Court of Appeals ruled in the Balbuena vs. IDR Realtycase that state labor laws apply to noncitizens, including undocumented immigrants. The case demonstrated that because employers knowingly hire undocumented workers, they are also required to provide workers’ compensation and payments for medical care in the event of a workplace accident. It also provides that undocumented workers may recover future lost wages should the worker be so badly hurt that they can never work again.

So, employers cannot refuse to provide employees with workers’ compensation or deny future lost wages unless the worker provides false documentation AND the boss does not verify the documentation with the United States Government. This is important to know if you or a loved one is injured on a construction site. It is also important to know that the same rule applies to situations in which employers fail to provide correct safety equipment or adhere to safety regulations and allows undocumented workers to sue for their pain and suffering as well as their lost wages and medical bills.

Protect Yourself & Your Family

If you are an undocumented employee working a construction job in New York, you face higher odds of workplace injury or death. It’s important for workers of every status in dangerous fields (like roofing and construction) to know their rights. Employers are obligated to give the same treatment and financial support to every worker in New York, regardless of their citizenship status.

If you were injured on a construction site, you have rights! New York City construction injury lawyers can help you get the medical care, wage benefits and other money you deserve through legal action.

You shouldn’t have to lose your job, home, or receive threats of deportation just because the construction company refuses to give you the protection you are entitled to. The case of Balbuena vs. IDR Realtyproved that undocumented workers in New York have the same rights as citizens of the United States; do not let an employer tell you differently. You cannot get deported for reporting a workplace injury. Furthermore, you are entitled to compensation for medical expenses and lost wages as a result of the accident.

Greenberg & Stein – Construction Accident Lawyers

Undocumented workers are often afraid to speak up after a workplace injury because they are unaware of their rights. Many also fear the false threat of getting deported if they decide to report the workplace injury.

Unsafe worksites are a danger to everyone. If the employer hired undocumented workers believing they won’t be responsible if those undocumented workers are injured, they are wrong. They are responsible for providing the same safe workplace, workers’ compensation insurance and coverage for pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life, as they do for documented workers and American citizens based on laws established in the state of New York.

Construction injuries account for nearly one in five workplace accidents. If you were injured on the job and your employer is refusing to give you their workers’ compensation information or tell you who will pay for your pain and suffering, you have rights!

Greenberg & Stein provides a free case evaluation. Contact us at 888-411-3966—or visit our websiteto learn how we can help you feel whole after the damages you suffered, including lost wages, medical expenses, pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of your life after your construction accident. Your immigration status will not affect your ability to hire a lawyer or make a claim.