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When workers’ comp, illegal status collide

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in Compensation and Benefits,Employment Law,Hiring,Human Resources

Federal law requires employers to verify that employees are eligible to work in the United States. It’s unlawful to knowingly hire anyone without authorization. But what happens if an employee’s ineligibility is only discovered in the course of investigating a workers’ compensation claim?

Recent case: Anibal used fake credentials to prove his eligibility to work. When he was hurt on the job, he applied for workers’ comp benefits.

While challenging his claim, Anibal’s employer learned he was not authorized to work in the U.S. Anibal was fired, and he added a retaliation charge to a worker’s comp lawsuit.

The employer alleged it had no choice but to discharge Anibal.

But the court said what mattered was its motivation. If the employer was moved to fire Anibal because he filed for benefits, that was retaliation even if the discharge itself was legally required. (Sanchez v. Dahike, Supreme Court of Minnesota, 2017)

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