Ohio House Workers’ Compensation Bill Would Strip Undocumented Workers’ Rights
In Ohio, undocumented workers are often forced into hazardous workplaces in order to avoid scrutiny of their residency status in the United States. Many of their employers may also try to skirt federal guidelines for employee health and safety standards or deny workers’ compensation claims for unauthorized employees who are hurt on the job.
Legislators in Ohio have attempted in several legislative sessions to deny workers’ compensation benefits for undocumented workers in hopes of discouraging employers who may want to hire them. One of these bills included language that an undocumented worker would have to prove their employer was fully aware they were unlawfully present in the United States before the worker could receive benefits. As a result, the burden of proof would fall upon the employee and not the employer. By denying undocumented workers this form of compensation, employers may knowingly hire these individuals and place them in the most hazardous occupations.
Instead of offering more protections to undocumented workers, who are already denied unemployment benefits and food assistance, the Ohio legislature has made numerous attempts to put them in even less safe working conditions. Denying workers’ compensation to undocumented immigrants would be an additional blow to an already vulnerable population. Unscrupulous employers should not be given a license to exploit workers they know cannot file injury claims.
The ACLU of Ohio issued a press release about this legislation in June 2017.