House Democrats today voted in opposition to House Bill (HB) 380, a Republican-sponsored bill to deny workers’ compensation benefits to undocumented workers who get injured or killed on the job. The House passed the bill on a largely party-line vote.
“Corporations that break the law and hire undocumented workers should have to take responsibility for workplace injuries—regardless of an employee’s immigration status,” said House Minority Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton). “Under HB 380, employers who rig the system will get off scot-free and taxpayers will be left with the bill.”
Employers would not be liable for damages under HB 380 as long as the employee seeking damages is an undocumented worker or a non-citizen dependent of an undocumented worker killed on the job. The bill also creates the legal presumption that the employer did not hire a person knowing they were undocumented, placing the burden of proof onto the worker to prove the employer willfully made the hire knowing the applicant was unauthorized to work in the U.S.
“HB 380 is a cheap political stunt that will increase the number of undocumented workers hired in Ohio because employer’s workers’ compensation costs are determined by the number of claims filed,” said Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus). “Since undocumented workers will no longer be able to file a claim when injured on the job, this bill will encourage employers to hire non-citizens. Who picks up the bill when employers and workers’ compensation won’t? The rest of us.”
“HB 380 incentivizes illegal employers who put profit first to look the other way when hiring undocumented workers,” said Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron). “Ohioans want accountability if they get injured on the job. HB 380 lets big corporations off the hook when employees get injured, creating instability and uncertainty for all Ohio workers.”
“HB 380 is a distraction from the real tragedy that allows illegal employers in Ohio to exploit workers with a lapse in paperwork who are injured or die on the job, as well as the illegal employers who are not being held accountable for unsafe working conditions.” said Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland).
“Ohio taxpayers should not be forced to pick up the tab for corporations that illegally hire undocumented workers,” said Rep. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood). “This bill creates unsafe conditions for us all.”
“I have continued to state that the effects of this bill can be perceived as racist. This change to workers comp will negatively affect the lives of thousands of Latinos in this state who are already the victims of prejudice and discrimination, at a growing rate,” said Rep. Dan Ramos (D-Lorain). “Not one person came to testify in support because of its potentially negative effects on the workplace. Regardless of intent, this bill is perceived by my community as racist. I will not continue to defend the actions of this body to the Latino community if it continues to pass legislation perceived as such.”
HB 380 now moves to the Senate for consideration.