Companies are Using a Florida Law to Get Undocumented Workers Arrested When They Get Injured on the Job

by Isaac Benmergui, Esq on October 4, 2017

Companies are Using a Florida Law to Get Undocumented Workers Arrested When they Get Injured on the JobA recent investigation by ProPublica and NPR revealed that insurance companies were using a Florida law to get illegal workers arrested when they got injured. But how?

Even illegal workers are guaranteed medical care through worker’s compensation when they get injured. There are laws in all 50 states that allow the nearly 8 million illegal immigrants nationwide to get medical care when they are injured on the job.

However, in 2003, Florida added a new wrinkle by making it a felony to file a worker’s comp claim using false information. Since then, insurers have saved a ton of money by hiring private investigators to look into every individual who makes a claim. When they do, they are promptly picked up on a felony charge and put in jail, even though their injury is real and really happened while they were working. And in case an arrest isn’t enough, some private investigation firms have online trophy walls, where they display information about the arrests they helped facilitate.

Critics say this law encourages employers to hire illegal immigrants, knowing that they won’t ever have to pay for medical costs. One of the people who helped draft the bill says this was not the intent of the law. “How is there insurance fraud if there’s no comp claim?” asked Mary Ann Stiles, a longtime business lobbyist. “That would not be what anybody intended it to be.”

As immigration enforcement increased under the Trump Administration, immigrants who are injured on the job are increasingly being deported as a result of the felony charge. Statewide, fraud investigators have arrested nearly 800 people in cases opened under the law, 99 percent of which were undocumented Hispanic workers, even though investigators claim their work has nothing to do with immigration, and is instead only about worker’s compensation fraud.

Call Miami Employment Lawyer Isaac Benmergui at 305.397.8547 and set up a no charge, no obligation consultation to discuss your case. We have over a decade of experience handling Employment Law and Civil Litigation cases throughout Miami and South Florida, and will use our expertise to help your case to the best of our abilities.

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