Due to his limited education and inability to speak English, a badly injured worker couldn’t perform light-duty work – so he filed for permanent total disability benefits.
A quick breakdown
Luis Aragon, an illegal immigrant, worked for HDV Construction Systems in Tallahassee, FL. After a 30-foot fall, he required extensive medical treatment, including a spinal cord stimulator implant.
Doctors said his injuries are permanent, confining him to sedentary work for life. But his ability to get a job was severely hampered by his limited education and inability to speak English.
HDV said Aragon wasn’t entitled to workers’ compensation because of his “illegal” status.
Did a judge award Aragon workers’ comp?
Yes. Aragon was awarded permanent total disability.
A workers’ comp judge (and later an appeals court) ruled that HDV should’ve known Aragon was an illegal immigrant, so that wasn’t a valid reason to deny him benefits.
In addition, Florida law defines “employee” as anyone receiving compensation from an employer.
A company that knowingly employs an illegal immigrant shouldn’t be able to shirk the cost of the injuries it creates, because that would put employers who operate lawfully at a disadvantage, the appeals court ruled.
Illegal aliens protected, too
Recent court rulings like this have sent a clear message to companies: Employment laws protect illegal aliens, too.
Another example: When a group of immigrant workers in Washington State sued their employer under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the company tried to get the case thrown out, saying illegal aliens weren’t protected under that federal law.
But a court allowed the lawsuit to proceed, saying the FLSA protects all employees — regardless of immigration status — from abuse.