The Ohio legislature recently passed a new budget bill to fund the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC). House Bill (HB) 80 was more than just a budget bill, however. The law introduced several new policies such as requiring workers’ comp claimants to specify their citizenship and punishing anyone who lies about being a U.S. citizen or legal resident on their application. This amendment to the budget bill passed a House vote with a comfortable majority of 56-38, and sent a clear message: people who are in the country illegally must indicate so on their claim applications.
Regardless of your immigration status, a workplace injury can be a life-changing experience. At Kademenos, Wisehart, Hines, Dolyk & Wright Co. LPA, we work to limit the negative consequences of on-the-job injuries by assisting you with your workers’ compensation claims. Our Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialists Adrienne Hines and Victor Kademenos can help you with your case.
Ohio Attempts to Deny Workers’ Compensation Coverage to Undocumented Immigrants
A bill introduced last year by Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder would have made it illegal for undocumented immigrants to get workers’ compensation. But that proposal did not pass the legislature. So this year, Rep. Bill Seitz sponsored an amendment to HB 80 that essentially accomplishes the same goal. Seitz claimed that his amendment is not about restricting access to workers’ compensation, but introducing a requirement for honesty into the process. On this, he says, “this amendment asks no more than what the 8th commandment commands: Thou shalt not bear false witness.”
From now on, workers’ comp applicants will need to check one of three boxes stating they are one of the following: a United States citizen, a non-citizen with permission to work in the United States, or “illegal alien or an unauthorized alien.” If you get caught lying about your immigration status, you will be barred from receiving workers comp’ benefits in the future, and a prosecutor may charge you with fraud. HB 80 does not explicitly deny workers’ compensation to undocumented people, but the citizenship question will deter many from applying after a workplace injury.
What happens when undocumented workers can’t get workers’ comp? Rep. Mike Skindell warns that undocumented immigrants will go to the emergency room after an injury to ensure that they get treated. But that cost gets passed down to the state taxpayers and insured people. With workers’ comp, on the other hand, it’s the employer who pays for treatment. So Ohio taxpayers might suffer, because the burden of providing medical care for injured undocumented workers will shift away from employers.
According to one estimate, there are around 90,000 undocumented immigrants in Ohio, many of whom are employed. They often work in dangerous sectors such as agriculture, where they will continue to get injured in disproportionate numbers. Since employers know that undocumented people rarely apply for workers’ compensation, they now have an incentive to keep hiring illegal labor.
An Attorney Can Help With Your Workers’ Comp Claim
When you get injured on the job, it’s not always easy getting the compensation you deserve. Your employer might deny that your injury occurred because of your position – or that you were not injured at all. In these situations, a workers’ compensation lawyer can help. At Kademenos, Kademenos, Wisehart, Hines, Dolyk & Wright Co. LPA, we have a proven track record of getting our clients what they need to move on in life. If your claim gets denied, our Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialists Adrienne Hines and Victor Kademenos can fight on your behalf.