On March 12, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The order specifies that workers who are exposed to and contract COVID-19 “during the regular course of their work” are eligible for workers’ compensation.
California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara followed up with a reminder that workers’ compensation benefits apply to all employees, regardless of their immigration status. This reminder is especially pertinent because many of our country’s most essential workers are undocumented.
Agricultural workers, for example, are responsible for putting food on our tables and keeping grocery stores stocked, but they may not be legal residents of the United States.
Lara’s alert also applies to healthcare workers, emergency service personnel, and employees at every level of food production and sales.
The Law Is On Your Side
If you work in an essential industry during the COVID-19 pandemic, you are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits by law. Even when there is not a global health crisis, California law requires workers’ compensation benefits for most injured employees whatever their immigration status may be. This rule can be found in California Labor Code § 3351, subdivision (a).
Further, SB 632 was passed in 2015, and directly addresses workers’ compensation benefits for undocumented workers in the United States.
In summary, Lara’s statement puts it best:
“[workers’ compensation] claims may not be denied on the basis of the injured worker’s immigration status.”
Get Help With Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
Insurance companies may be facing many claims amid a global pandemic, but they still have to honor valid claims and pay out benefits.
If you need assistance with your initial application or guidance on what to do if your claim is denied, please contact our firm at (408) 709-7317 today. You can also click here to schedule a free consultation online.