New Law Prohibits Discrimination of Workers' Compensation Benefits Based on Immigration Status
By Amy C. Leung, Esq.
California Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed Senate Bill (SB) 623 into law. The bill reaffirms that the Workers' Compensation system provides benefits to all injured workers, regardless of citizenship or immigration status. It also overrides existing discriminatory law.
In 2002, the California Labor Code was amended to declare that state labor and employment protections, rights and remedies are available to all individuals regardless of immigration status. However, state regulations continued to exist that limited undocumented workers access to certain benefits in the Workers' Compensation system. The laws still imposed restrictions on two specific benefits, the Uninsured Employers Benefits Trust Fund (UEBTF) and the Subsequent Injuries Benefit Trust Fund (SIBTF).
UEBTF benefits are provided by the state of California to injured workers whose employers do not have Workers' Compensation insurance, and, therefore, fail to pay benefits to those who sustain on-the-job injuries. It is illegal for employers not to carry Workers' Compensation insurance.
The SIBTF fund is an additional source of compensation provided to seriously injured workers who had a pre-existing disability or injury at the time of their work injury, as long as certain criteria are met.
SB 623 clearly states that a person shall not be excluded from receiving UEBTF or SIBTF benefits based on his or her citizenship or immigration status.
The law firm of Gordon, Edelstein, Krepack, Grant, Felton & Goldstein, LLP applauds the state legislature and Gov. Brown for taking steps to eliminate barriers to Worker's Compensation benefits for undocumented workers who are injured on the job.