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Decision Guillermo Medellin v. Cashman KPA

Date: 12/23/2003
Organization: Department of Industrial Accidents
Docket Number: DIA Board No. 033243-00
Location: Boston
  • Employee: Guillermo Medellin
  • Employer: Cashman KPA
  • Insurer: National Union Fire Insurance Co.

MAZE-ROTHSTEIN, J. After recent United States Supreme Court pronouncements, can undocumented immigrant workers1  receive Massachusetts workers’ compensation benefits? The insurer argues they cannot. It appeals from a decision awarding Guillermo Medellin such benefits. Specifically, the insurer submits that Mr. Medellin cannot receive benefits for his incapacitating work injury because his admitted status as an undocumented immigrant worker bars him from receiving benefits under the recent United States Supreme Court decision of Hoffman Plastic Compounds, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board, 535 U.S. 137 (2002). It is the insurer’s contention that Hoffman overrules the reviewing board decision, Brambila v. Chase-Walton Elastomers, Inc., 11 Mass. Workers’ Comp. Rep. 410 (1997), by preempting our law on this point. In Brambila, we concluded that an employee’s status as an undocumented worker, unauthorized to be employed in the United States under 8 U.S.C. § 1324a,2  does not bar him/her from receiving workers’ compensation benefits otherwise due. Brambila, supra at 416. For the reasons that follow, we consider Hoffman inapposite, and we decline to overrule Brambila. We therefore affirm the decision.

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1As there are multiple means of describing the status Mr. Medellin presents, and as the United States is a composite of immigrants, we use the term, "undocumented immigrant worker" or "undocumented worker" versus the more pejorative, "illegal alien."

2 8 U.S.C. § 1324a(a)(1)(A) reads:

Making employment of unauthorized aliens unlawful
(1) In general
It is unlawful for a person or other entity—
(A) to hire, or to recruit or refer for a fee, for employment in the United States an alien knowing the alien is an unauthorized alien (as defined in subsection (h)(3) of this section) with respect to such employment. . . .
(Emphasis supplied).

There is no allegation of a "knowing" employer hire here.

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