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Workers on employment visas afraid to report work-related injuries

There has been a huge push in the last few decades towards improving working conditions and making them safer for workers. With newer health codes and even new laws that protect whistleblowers, it would seem that at this day in age, few employees should ever fear losing their job if they report unsafe working conditions.

But this is far from the truth for migrant workers who may be here on employment visas. According to the director of the University of Pennsylvania's Transnational Law Center, temporary and migrant workers are not only more likely to receive an injury on the job but are also more likely to not report the work-related injury than a permanent worker.

But why is this the case? The director says that there are two major factors at work here. Because of contract limitations, many temporary and migrant workers are not provided with the same medical benefits as regular employees. In most cases, the company does not provide workers' compensation benefits to employees classified under temporary status which could greatly reduce a person's chance of reporting an incident.

But although the first reason is a general practice among businesses across the U.S., including here in Florida, the second factor is said by some to be a dirty business tactic. We're talking about retaliatory actions against employees for reporting accidents. For regular or permanent employees, state and federal laws protect a person from being fired or retaliated against. But for immigrant workers or people here on employment visas, the story is very different.

Such was the case for one worker who was deported after the company he was employed at accused him of visa fraud. This came after he and several other workers tried to unionize and reported retaliation to the National Labor Relations Board.

Situations such as this are never easily handled on your own and require specific knowledge of the legal system in order to see an outcome in your favor. And when it comes to immigration and employment, different sets of laws can present complex legal situations for all parties involved.

Source: The Raw Story, "Temporary and migrant workers face 'systemic' problem of workplace dangers," David Ferguson, March 28, 2013

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