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Where Can Immigrant Workers Turn After a Workplace Injury?

Posted By David Hernandez || April 3, 2013


Employers here in New York state are obligated by law to offer their workers a safe working environment. When employers fail to meet certain legal standards and injuries take place, it is important for workers to be able to obtain compensation for medical expenses and lost income.

In many cases, however, it can be difficult for injured workers to get a hold of the compensation they deserve. While, of course, certain workplaces are more dangerous than others, several recent news reports have pointed out that a certain demographic is also more vulnerable than others when it comes to workplace injuries. Temporary and migrant workers are more likely than others to be injured on the job, and to have trouble seeking justice in the aftermath of a workplace accident.

There are many reasons for this trend, including the fact that temporary and migrant workers have a large presence in dangerous industries. For example in a recent 12-month period in New York City, 21 of 29 fatal construction accidents involved immigrant workers or workers with limited English skills.

A huge part of this problem may be that some immigrant workers are too intimidated to hold their employers accountable for fostering unsafe working conditions.

In 2005, the Human Rights Watch pointed to one U.S. Supreme Court decision that may have had a chilling effect on the ability of immigrant workers to speak out against their employers. In that case, a company brought visa fraud charges against a worker who was involved in unionizing the workforce. He was deported, and his claims accusing the company of retaliation were not considered.

It is certainly understandable why immigrant workers might hesitate to report unsafe working conditions or file a workplace injury claim, as various missteps can jeopardize a person’s immigration status. However, those who are injured at work–whether they are immigrants or not–may be wise to seek legal counsel from an outside party to learn about their rights and determine whether it is wise to hold an employer liable. Doing so is often a way not only to obtain compensation, but also to shine a light on an employer’s unsafe and illegal practices.

Source: Greenwich Post, “Immigrant worker’s death prompts lawsuit,” Kait Shea, March 6, 2013

Source: The Raw Story, “Temporary and migrant workers face ‘systemic’ problem of workplace dangers,” David Ferguson, March 28, 2013

  • Our personal injury law firm in Brooklyn helps people who have been injured in workplace accidents to file claims and recover compensation. More information about this area of our practice is available on our Workplace Injuries page.