Workers’ Compensation for Michigan’s Undocumented Workers

Workers’ Compensation for Michigan’s Undocumented Workers

Everyone should be able to work in conditions that are dignified, fair, and healthy, and getting injured at work should never mean losing your income or ability to take care of your family. However, for the past 17 years undocumented workers in Michigan who suffer serious workplace injuries have been unjustly denied workers’ compensation wages while they are recovering.

On behalf of the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, Public Justice and the Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice filed a lawsuit which seeks to end Michigan’s practice of punishing injured undocumented workers and shielding employers and insurance companies from responsibility. The lawsuit would ensure that undocumented immigrants who are injured at work receive workers’ compensation wages in Michigan.


Filed in the State of Michigan Court of Claims against the Governor of Michigan, the lawsuit challenges the Michigan Court of Appeals’ 2003 decision in Sanchez v. Eagle Alloy, which lets employers and insurance companies off the hook for failing to compensate undocumented workers injured on the job. The lawsuit states that Michigan’s continued denial of undocumented workers’ access to workers’ compensation wages contravenes Michigan Supreme Court precedent and violates due process.

When undocumented workers are protected, everyone benefits. Immigrants perform some of the hardest, most dangerous, and most essential work that keeps Michiganders housed and fed. Ensuring that undocumented people receive lost wages when injured at work would create more dignified, fair, and healthy workplaces for everyone.

Forty-three social service, religious, and labor organizations have signed a letter to show their support for Michigan’s undocumented workers who continue to be wrongfully excluded from workers’ compensation wages.

Learn more about the case in our press release.

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