Florida lawmakers have put forth a proposal that would remove the felony workers’ compensation fraud charges often issued to individuals who use fake identifications and identities. Instead, these employees would be eligible to receive workers’ comp, a proposal expected to be beneficial to the many unauthorized immigrants working in the state.
The current Florida workers’ compensation law, which has been in place since 2003, makes it a crime for undocumented immigrants to apply for benefits or a job while using false identities or other identifying information, including Social Security numbers.
This most recent proposal was introduced by Sen. Gary Farmer (D-Fort Lauderdale). It would only punish workers who use false information related to their benefit eligibility. For example, lying about the occurrence of an accident would be a punishable offense, but using false personal information would not.
Florida, like some other states, allows undocumented workers to receive workers’ compensation so long as they do not use false information to do so. According to Farmer, the law should be expanded to protect more workers across the state.
How does the 2003 law currently affect workers?
A Naples Daily News report in December revealed that employers of workers who were charged with fraud under the existing law often did not even check those employees’ identifications or Social Security numbers before hiring them. It was only after they filed a claim for workers’ compensation that employers would check their Social Security numbers, find that they were undocumented immigrants and then report them to law enforcement, denying them benefits in the process.
Advocates for the new law argue that if employers do not need to conduct Social Security checks before making hiring decisions, then that information should also not be used when granting workers’ compensation.
If you or someone you know has been injured on the job, speak with an experienced Florida personal injury attorney at Goldman, Babboni, Fernandez, Murphy & Walsh right away.