On Tuesday, March 16, 2010, Senator Bill Seitz introduced Senate Bill 238 to the Ohio General Assembly. If passed, this bill would amend Ohio’s Revised Code to prohibit illegal and unauthorized aliens from receiving compensation and benefits under Ohio’s Workers’ Compensation Law.

Currently, illegal and unauthorized aliens are afforded the same benefits under Ohio Workers’ Compensation Law that other workers are. In other words, illegal and unauthorized workers who are injured in the course of and arising out of their employment are allowed to file workers’ compensation claims and receive benefits and treatment for their injuries.

Since this bill was just introduced this week, it is too early to predict the likelihood of passage or what changes may be added before it is ultimately voted on by the Ohio General Assembly. We will continue to monitor the bill and provide updates as it proceeds through the legislative process.

SB 238 seeks to amend sections 2743.02, 2744.02, 4123.01 and 4123.511 and would enact sections 2307.82, 4123.513, 4123.514 and 4123.515 to the Ohio Revised Code. Specifically, in Section 4123.01 (A)(1)(e), the language, An illegal alien or an unauthorized alien, would be added to those categories of individuals who are not “employees.”

In 4123.01(L-N), the definition of illegal aliens is defined. This new section states:

(L) “Illegal alien” means an alien who is deportable if apprehended because of one of the following:

 

1. The alien entered the United States illegally without the proper authorization and documents.

2. The alien once entered the United States legally and has

since violated the terms of the status under which the alien entered the United States, making that alien an “out of status” alien.

3. The alien once entered the United States legally but has overstayed the time limits of the original legal status.

 

(M) “Unauthorized alien” means an alien who is not authorized to be employed as determined in accordance with the Immigration Reform and Control Act.

 

(N) “Immigration Reform and Control Act” means section 101(a) of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986,” 100 Stat. 3360, 8 U.S.C. 1324a.

Under SB 238, once an injured worker files a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, the injured worker would have 28 days to submit documentation to the Administrator of workers’ compensation or the self-insured employer that the injured worker was authorized to work in accordance with the Immigration Reform and Control Act on the date the injured worker was injured. Once the required documentation is received, the Administrator or self-insured employer may use a status verification system to verify the employee’s authorization to work. Status verification systems include “e-verify,” or the social security verification system.

Besides prohibiting workers’ compensation claims filed by illegal and unauthorized aliens, SB 238 would also prohibit courts from having jurisdiction over claims for damages suffered by an illegal alien or an unauthorized alien by reason of personal injury sustained or occupational disease contracted in the course of employment which was caused by the wrongful act or omission or neglect of the employer. SB 238, however, does give courts jurisdiction over these claims if the employer employed the illegal alien or unauthorized alien knowing that the illegal alien or unauthorized alien was not authorized to work under the Immigration Reform an Control Act. Illegal aliens or unauthorized aliens would not be prevented from bringing a claim for intentional tort allegedly committed by their employer.