The Illinois Worker’s Compensation Act defines an “employee,” as meaning,
“Every person in the service of another under any contract of hire….. oral or written, … including aliens … who, for the purpose of this Act, are considered the same.” Undocumented workers know that dishonest employers may try to take advantage of their status to deny them rights and benefits they are entitled to under the law.
Hard-working immigrants who are here without authorization may fear the consequences of speaking up about such violations or may presume that the legal rights that apply to citizens don’t apply to them. Undocumented Illinois workers who get hurt on the job may mistakenly believe that they cannot legally make a claim for workers’ compensation benefits because of their immigration status.
But that is false. In Illinois, undocumented workers are treated the same as all other employees and are entitled to the benefits and compensation available under the law.
Undocumented Workers Are “Employees” Entitled To Workers’ Comp Benefits
As reflected in the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act and decisions made by courts and the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, “aliens,” undocumented or otherwise, are on an equal footing with U.S. citizens and other fully-documented Illinois workers when it comes to workers’ compensation.
Illinois courts have made it clear that the meaning of “aliens” as used in the Workers’ Compensation Act “includes not only foreign-born citizens that can legally work in the United States, but also those that cannot.”
As such, “all aliens in the service of another pursuant to a contract for hire, regardless of their immigration status, are considered ’employees’ within the meaning of the Act and, under Illinois law, are entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits.”
What Benefits Can Undocumented Workers Obtain?
Generally, undocumented workers are entitled to the same temporary total disability (TIO} weekly benefits when they are off work by a doctor’s order due to a work related injury and permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits at the end of the case as any other employee.
Payment of medical bills and permanency benefits are available to undocumented workers as well. If such an individual is killed while on the job, their widow, widower, children, totally dependent parents, and partially dependent parents and children can claim compensation at a 50 percent deduction.
What About Retaliation?
Undocumented workers are often understandably reluctant to assert their rights or claim worker’ compensation benefits because they fear what could happen to their immigration status.
The Workers’ Compensation Act expressly bans retaliation by an employer against an employee for making a claim or otherwise exercising their workers’ compensation rights. This applies to retaliation against undocumented workers as well.
Of course, not all employers follow the law and may seek to hold a workers’ status against them by threatening to report them to ICE. That is one reason why it is so important that injured and undocumented workers consult with a workers’ compensation attorney who understands the unique issues and concerns they confront.
We Can Help Undocumented Workers The Benefits They Need and Deserve
At The Ramaker Law Firm, we fight passionately for the rights of injured workers no matter their immigration status. We help workers and their families obtain benefits to cover:
- lost wages (TTD)
- medical bills
- permanent disability (PPD) for permanent injuries (either total or partial)
- vocational rehabilitation assistance; and/or
- death benefits for the families of workers killed on the
If you are an undocumented worker and have suffered a work injury, please call us at 312-377-7000 to set up your free consultation in Spanish or English.