Workers comp protections for illegal workers cut in New York

This is what the failed immigration reform bill was intended to prevent – a bifurcation of the nation’s worker protections into two systems – one for legal, the other for illegal workers. Judges, policymakers and practitioners are aware that by weakening protections for illegal workers, long term damage to the entire system of protections happens.
Thanks to, I learned that a New York appellate court ruled that illegal workers are ineligible for one form of workers compensation benefit: the so-called “additional compensation” to make up for earnings capacity loss when there is at least a 50% permanent reduction in earnings loss.
The case decided in June was Ramroop v. Flexo-Craft Printing Inc., 501026, 06/21/2007.
Says Workcompcentral, “In 1995, Ronnie Ramroop sustained a work-related injury to his right hand and was awarded a 75% schedule loss of use of his hand. In 2002, Ramroop requested his case be reopened to see if he was entitled to additional benefits provided for workers with at least 50% loss of use of a hand, which Workers’ Compensation Law Section 15 allows.”
The court ruled that because the worker in question was not legally able to work, his earning capacity was reduced – in fact, eliminated – by his illegal status, so that whatever learning loss he sustained from work injury was not the sole reason for earnings loss. Therefore the worker did not meet a criterion for more additional compensation that the injury itself must by be the sole reason for earnings loss.
This could be the start of a turn in judicial oversight that would eclipse a 2006 decision. In July 2006, in Jose Hernandez v. Excel Recycling Corp., the 3rd Division Appellate Court ruled that a policy of disregarding immigration status in determining eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits can be upheld, regardless of federal immigration law.