Undocumented immigrants who are injured on the job in Indiana are entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits under state law. They are also entitled to pursue third-party compensation from any other liable parties. However, should they be paid in U.S. dollars or in the currency of their native country? That’s the question before the Indiana Supreme Court in Escamilla v. Shiel Sexton Co.
While the question of currency may seem a trivial one, it actually may have a significant impact on how much companies pay workers hurt on the job. Those who argue all workers injured in the U.S. need to be paid in U.S. dollars say that to do otherwise would allow companies that flout the law by hiring undocumented workers to receive an incentive by giving them a means to pay less in compensation in the event of an injury.
Those who are arguing in favor of being allowed to pay in the injured worker’s native currency say it’s not fair that a worker should be allowed to recover damages for lost wages that they can’t legally earn. Furthermore, if those wages were to be paid in the future, they should be based on what the worker might earn in their own country, rather than what they make in the U.S.