As recently reported by Crain’s New York Business, immigrant workers accounted for most of New York City’s construction-related deaths in 2015.
Citing data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this report found that 18 of the 25 workers who died while working construction in 2015 were foreign-born, and most of those were from Latin America. In fact, 13 of these construction workers were originally from Central and South America, including five from Mexico — meaning they accounted for more than half of all construction deaths that year.
So why are foreign-born workers suffering fatal construction accidents at such an alarming rate? Well, that is not necessarily an easy question to answer.
For instance, while some believe that these workers are more prone to injury since many find employment on non-union construction projects, others believe that employers may be taking advantage of some of the workers’ undocumented statuses — believing that they are less likely to report dangerous work conditions and/or work-related injuries out of fear of possible deportation.
In the end, either — or both — of these explanations may be correct, or there may be a completely different reason for this alarming construction-related fatality rate. However, regardless of the reasons, the statistics mentioned above make it quite clear that foreign-born construction workers are at risk of serious injury, or even death.
Do foreign-born workers have rights under New York law?
While some employers and supervisors choose to mislead foreign-born workers about their rights when it comes to work-related injuries, the truth is the all construction workers have rights in New York, regardless of their citizenship. Quite simply, the law provides protections for everyone, including undocumented workers — meaning both citizens and noncitizens may be able to seek compensation following a construction-related injury.
Therefore, if your boss is telling you that you have no rights because you are an undocumented worker, don’t listen to them. You should speak with an experienced attorney who can review the facts of your situation and explain what legal options may be available.
At Edelman & Edelman, not only can we help you seek the compensation you deserve, but we can also arrange a meeting with an immigration attorney to alleviate your concerns about possible deportation. You are not alone; we can help.