New Law to Ban Undocumented Workers from Workers’ Comp

In December 2017, the Ohio House of Representatives passed House Bill (HB) 380, which would ban undocumented workers from workers’ comp benefits. Sponsored by Representatives Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) and Larry Householder (R-Glenford), HB 380 was approved along party lines after a 62-30 vote in the House.

The bill has now been introduced to the senate, which is also controlled by the republican party. HB 380 provides that “an illegal alien or unauthorized alien assumes the risk of incurring such injury or contracting an occupational disease, and that assumption is a complete bar to a recovery of damages for such injury or occupational disease.”

If you have questions about workers’ comp or other employment law issues, contact the Ohio workers’ compensation lawyers from Kademenos, Wisehart, Hines, Dolyk & Wright Co. LPA at (419) 625-7770 to schedule a free case consultation.

Will HB 380 Dissuade Undocumented Workers or Profit Unscrupulous Businesses?

If HB 380 passes, undocumented persons, who often work in more dangerous professions, will face intolerable risks if they decide to enter the workforce. Whether these heightened risks will dissuade immigrants from working illegally remains to be seen. A more likely benefit that could result from the bill’s passage is a lower amount of workers’ compensation claims, which could save the state money.

Opponents such as Ohio House Minority Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) claim that HB 380 shifts responsibility away from businesses and places it exclusively on immigrants. According to Strahorn, “corporations that break the law and hire undocumented workers should have to take responsibility for workplace injuries – regardless of an employee’s immigration status.”

Another opponent of HB 380 is the ACLU of Ohio. They believe that the bill increases the strain on vulnerable groups of people who often work for neglectful or exploitative businesses. According to the ACLU website, unscrupulous businesses would be empowered to hire undocumented workers, “and assign them to work the most harmful jobs or in the most dangerous environments since many of the working people this bill targets do not have the resources to file lawsuits or conduct a search for ‘clear and convincing’ evidence against their employers.”

Businesses that play by the rules by maintaining safe working conditions and refusing to hire undocumented workers might be placed at a disadvantage. Their competitors could save money by cutting corners on safety and placing undocumented workers in risky positions. The cost of any resulting injuries would be shifted away from these businesses and ultimately land with hospitals and Ohio taxpayers.

A Similar Bill Failed to Pass the Republican-Controlled Legislature Last Year

Last year the House included provisions in the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation budget that excluded undocumented workers from coverage. The Ohio Senate Insurance and Financial Institutions Committee, however, struck these provisions from the Senate’s version of the bill. Ultimately, both the House and the Senate approved the Senate’s version of the workers’ compensation budget, which maintained coverage for undocumented workers.

Let Our Attorneys Help

At Kademenos, Wisehart, Hines, Dolyk & Wright Co. LPA, we are closely following HB 380 and other laws and regulations that could affect the rights of our clients. Our Ohio workers’ compensation attorneys are dedicated to helping working people to obtain the compensation they deserve after an injury. If you have been injured on the job, you have the right to seek compensation, regardless of your immigration status. Contact us today at (419) 625-7770 to schedule a free consultation.