Abel Verdon Construction v. Rivera, et al., No. 2009-CA-000771-WC (Ky. Ct. App. 10/15/10).
Ruling: The Kentucky Court of Appeals held that a worker, who was an undocumented alien, was entitled to temporary total disability benefits.
What it means: Federal immigration law does not preempt Kentucky workers' compensation law entitling undocumented workers to receive benefits for work-related injuries.
Summary: A 15-year-old undocumented immigrant worked on a construction site picking up trash. He was injured when he fell through a hole in the second floor of a home under construction. He suffered extensive injuries requiring hospitalization for two months. The construction company argued that federal immigration law preempted state law to the extent that it awards benefits to illegal aliens injured at work. The Kentucky Court of Appeals held that the worker was entitled to temporary total disability benefits.
The company argued that the state law frustrated the purpose of federal immigration law that makes it unlawful to employ an illegal alien. The company asserted that the state law encouraged violations of the federal immigration law. The court noted that the state law protects the health and safety of workers. The court was not persuaded that aliens would enter the country illegally and seek work to take advantage of workers' compensation benefits. The court also explained that if it found the state law was preempted by the federal law it would add an incentive to hire undocumented aliens and take away the incentive to maintain a safe workplace.
The court found that an employment relationship existed between the worker and the construction company. The worker was paid in cash, but the company controlled his work by telling him when and where to work and what tasks to perform.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
January 13, 2011
Copyright 2011© LRP Publications