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Workers' Compensation and Illegal Aliens

Despite the Immigration Reform and Control Act and other federal laws, the workers' compensation laws of Maryland take priority over these regulations. This means that illegal aliens in Maryland are eligible for workers' compensation benefits.
 
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    COLUMBIA, MD, February 12, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Under federal law, illegal aliens may not be employed within the United States under Federal statute 8 U.S.C. Section1324a as well as the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. Despite these laws, the workers' compensation laws of Maryland take priority over these regulations. This means that illegal aliens in Maryland are eligible for workers' compensation benefits.

Illegal aliens are given the right to have workers' compensation benefits from the 2005 case of Design Kitchen and Baths v. Lagos. The Maryland Court of Appeals interpreted the Md. Code, Section 9-202 of the Labor and Employment Article. The exact wording of the statute states:
(a) An individual, including a minor, is presumed to be a covered employee while in the service of an employer under an express or implied contract of apprenticeship or hire.
(b) A minor may be a covered employee under this section even if the minor is employed unlawfully.

In order for the court to determine if illegal aliens were within the definition of a covered employee, the Court found that the statute stated that an employee must meet two requirements: (1) he must be "in the service of an employer;" and (2) that the service is in connection with "an express or implied contract of apprenticeship or hire." The statute goes on to further clarify that a minor who is employed unlawfully does not preclude him from being considered a covered employee. The Court also found that a previous iteration of the statute contained language to state that "Every person, including a person under eighteen years of age, whether lawfully or unlawfully employed..." is covered under workers' compensation as codified in Md. Code (1957, 1964 Replacement Volume, 1971 Cum. Supp.), Art. 101, 21(b)(1.) From the notes, they were able to find that the reason for the change in language was a belief that the new language did not substantially change the meaning of the statute. The Court also found that the Immigration Reform Act never indicates that Congress intended preempt state laws that benefit illegal aliens.

Outside of interpreting the statute in this way, the Court determined that if illegal aliens were not covered under statute, it would open up an opportunity for employers to take advantage of illegal alien workers. Employers could place illegal alien workers in dangerous and unsafe conditions without fear that they may be punished for doing so. Thus, illegal aliens would have no relief for any work related injuries.

Despite the Court interpreting that illegal aliens are covered under Maryland's workers' compensation laws, illegal aliens do not have all employment benefits. In the United States Supreme Court case of Hoffman Plastic Compounds, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board, it was found that illegal aliens are not entitled to back pay for wrongful termination and are not entitled to Vocational Rehabilitation services. Vocational Rehabilitation services are professional services that enable the injured individual to overcome barriers to return to employment.

At Portner & Shure, our well-qualified attorneys handle a variety of personal injury and criminal defense matters in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. They are joined by an outstanding support staff that includes paralegals fluent in Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese, Korean, Vietnamese and Spanish.



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