New York court in Balbuena case: worker gets full lost wages

New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, ruled that an undocumented worker can receive back pay at prevailing wages as part of a tort suit against employer due to work injury. The Balbuena vs. IDR Realty case stems from a work accident in 2000 resulting in multiple skull fractures. A lower court ruled in 2005 that Balbuena was entitled to lost wages but only at the amount he would have received in Mexico. This was a tort case, not a workers compensation case, but it has implications for workers compensation. The courts in New York State have yet to rule definitively on workers comp benefits to undocumented workers.
This information was derived from the Sun, in an article written by Daniala Gerson 2/22/06
According to the Sun,

Noting that “the power to regulate immigration rests exclusively with the federal government,” Judge Graffeo concluded that state Labor Law “applies to all workers in qualifying employment situations – regardless of immigration status – and nothing in the relevant statutes or our decisions negates the universal applicability of this principle.” Moreover, she wrote, by not providing compensation to illegal immigrants, the state would encourage their employment, deterring federal objectives.

A copy of the decision is available. The court folded in a similar case involving a Polish immigrant, Stanislaw Majlinger

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