An undocumented immigrant is allowed to move forward with his claim that he was placed on unpaid leave indefinitely in retaliation for filing for workers’ comp, according to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.
In the case, Sanchez v. Dahike Trailer Sales, Inc., it is being demonstrated that labor and employment laws intersect with immigration. Usually, the courts protect immigrant workers whether they are documented or not and that shows in this unique case.
In this case, Sanchez presented information that showed Dahike Trailer Sales, Inc. knew of his undocumented status and knew of it for years, but they only took action against him when he filed for workers’ comp so he could recover from a workplace injury. Showing that the company knew of his undocumented status was enough for the court to issue a summary judgment in favor of the employee.
In other words, status doesn’t have much influence on the actual claim at hand.
Because status doesn’t matter, the court ruled that undocumented immigrants have a right to bring a claim if retaliatory discharge comes into play after filing for workers’ comp. This is because retaliation of any kind is a violation of the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act.
At the same time, the federal Immigration Reform and Control Act makes it illegal to employ undocumented immigrants, but that law is meant to keep employers from employing them in the first place. However, when an employer breaks the law and hires them anyway, it doesn’t relieve them from the anti-retaliation aspect of workers’ compensation law.
It comes down to the fact the company hired the man, therefore he was afforded the same rights as anyone else that the employer had hired.
The court also rejected the trailer sales company’s claim that the employee’s indefinite unpaid leave wasn’t retaliation. However, when the employee was put on leave, salary and benefits were lost. The judge wrote that a reduction in the employee’s salary constituted a material change in the terms and conditions of employment. They saw this as retaliatory and not non-retaliatory like the employer claimed.
The court turned to the district court to develop the record further as to whether or not the employer had a legitimate and non-retaliatory reason for putting the employee on leave.
This is when another judge joined the decision and the decision was in favor of the employee.
This case sets a precedent for other undocumented workers that are illegally hired by employers and then later file for workers’ comp when injured on the job.
Contact A Mankato Workers' Compensation Lawyer Today
Contact the law office of Chesley, Harvey & Carpenter today at (507) 625-3000 for a free case review. We are located in Mankato, Minnesota.