Illegal aliens can enter into a “contract of hire” and seek workers’ comp benefits in Michigan.
President Donald Trump has made some big news this month with executive action limiting refuges coming into the United Sates. He has also taken executive action cracking down on sanctuary cities and funding a border wall with Mexico. We suspect the issue of undocumented workers is next on his agenda.
Foreign workers must have permission to gain employment in the United States. It is illegal to hire an undocumented worker. But what happens if false documentation is provided or the employer hires an illegal anyway?
Unfortunately, some employers take advantage of people in desperate situations. This happens when an illegal alien gets hurt but is told not to make a claim for workers’ comp benefits. We have even heard some people get threatened by their employers with deportation!
Michigan law provides workers’ comp benefits to employees who are hurt on-the-job. This includes wage loss and medical care. It is the exclusive remedy against the employer and a person cannot file a separate tort action.
Undocumented aliens are permitted medical treatment under workers’ comp regardless of the circumstances. In exchange, the employer keeps the protection afforded by the exclusive remedy provision.
Wage loss benefits are much more complicated. Michigan courts have found that illegal aliens can enter into a valid contract of hire and be entitled to wage loss. However, payment stops once the employer discovers the employee is no longer able to work because of the commission of a crime. Specifically, violating federal law and being an undocumented worker. A good discussion of how the law operates can be found in Sanchez v. Eagle Alloy Inc., 254 Mich App 651, 658 NW2d 510 (2003).
We recommend that anyone who suffers a workplace accident contact an experienced workers’ comp lawyer.
Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers never charges a fee to evaluate a potential case. Our law firm has represented injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years. Call (855) 221-2667 for a free consultation today.
Is it time to scrap the exclusive remedy?
Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by Vix_B.