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House Advances Bill To Withhold Injury Compensation From Undocumented Workers

sen._bill_seitz_speaks.jpg
Karen Kasler
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Cincinnati Rep. Bill Seitz supports a bill that bans undocumented workers from receiving compensation if they're injured on the job.

The Senate is now considering a proposal that would ban undocumented workers from receiving workers’ compensation if they’re injured on the job. The measure passed the House, but not without a heated debate between two fiery lawmakers.

 

Democratic Rep. Dan Ramos of Lorain argued that stripping workers’ comp benefits from undocumented workers would encourage bad employer practices.

“If the workplace is unsafe for one employee, regardless of their status or documentation, it’s unsafe for all employees," Ramos says. "It is unsafe, period."

But Republican Rep. Bill Seitz of Cincinnati says if employers knowingly hire an undocumented worker, they could be sued.

“The employer gets victimized twice," Seitz says. "First he’s been deceived by the employee for turning in forged papers, and then to add insult onto injury, he gets to turn around and pay the medical bill for the illegal alien that deceived the employer in the first place."

But Ramos and other opponents maintain the bill could actually encourage employers to hire undocumented workers because the costs of those employees could be lower.

An investigation by ProPublica and the New Yorker found that Case Farms, which operates chicken processing plants in Ohio, hired undocumented workers and then fired them when they got injured to protested for better conditions.

The measure, which is found in the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation budget bill, now moves to the Senate.