Disability, not immigration status, causes loss of earnings
As a matter of public policy, an illegal alien is not excluded from the definition of "employee" under the Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Act.
Case name: Fragoso v. JPA Masonry, 24 PAWCLR 21 (Pa.W.C.A.B. 02/10/09).
Ruling: The Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Appeals Board affirmed the grant of a claim petition by an undocumented worker.
What it means:
To show an entitlement to benefits, a claimant must establish an employment relationship during which a work-related injury occurred. In addition, as a matter of public policy, an illegal alien is not excluded from the definition of "employee" under the Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Act.
Summary: The claimant filed a claim petition alleging a severe crush injury to his right hand. A workers' compensation judge granted the petition, finding that the claimant sustained the injury while cleaning a mixer owned by the employer. The judge also found that the claimant was an undocumented worker. The board agreed that the claimant was entitled to benefits. The employer controlled the manner and circumstances of the claimant's work, and he was completely disabled by his injury. The board rejected the employer's argument that the claimant's loss of earnings was due to his immigration status, and not his disability. The claimant was incapable of working because of his work-related injury. It also was unlikely that the claimant, who did not speak English and performed manual labor for a living, would be able to find employment that would not require using his right hand.
April 23, 2009
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