Many immigrants living in the Los Angeles area without proper documentation can feel like they have limited rights when it comes to employment. They might fear speaking out about unfair working situations because they worry about being identified as being in the country illegally and threatened with deportation.

This fear didn’t stop one woman from speaking up about her right to worker’s compensation benefits after a work-related injury. The woman was working for a temporary employment agency when she was assigned to work at a plant. Part of her job responsibilities included preparing boxes and pallets for shipping. She suffered two abdominal hernias in September 2007 while she was lifting a pallet. Her injury required surgery two months later. Although she returned to work in December, she was fired the next month.

The woman had initially come to the United States on a 10 year visa in 1991. Although her visa expired, she decided to stay in the country. Because she did not have legal permission to live in the U.S., the company for which she was working said that they did not have to pay her workers’ compensation benefits.

Her case went through a variety of different courts all the way to the state Supreme Court. The court determined that the woman was indeed entitled to the benefits.

If you are concerned that you aren’t being treated fairly because of your status in the U.S., it may be beneficial to speak with an attorney about what exactly your rights are.

Source: Claims Journal, “Iowa Court: Immigrant Worker on Expired Visa Gets Workers’ Comp,” David Pitt, Nov. 18, 2013