Wednesday, November 5, 2003

Tennessee Supreme Court upholds ruling against employer who refused to pay illegal immigrant's worker's comp claim

JOSE SILVA v. MARTIN LUMBER COMPANY, ET AL., Direct Appeal from the Chancery Court for Putnam County, No. 2001-156, Vernon Neal, Chancellor, No. M2003-00490-WC-R3-CV - Mailed - October 1, 2003, Filed - November 5, 2003

Presentation of false work authorization documents was immaterial to employee's right to recovery; misstating legal status had nothing to do with injury.

Court cites already-existing law that "Illegal aliens are not excluded from coverage pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 50-6-106 entitled 'Employments not covered' which lists types of employees who are not entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits. ... The Tennessee Supreme Court has noted that, 'The ordinary and usual meaning of the word ‘employee’ is one who is employed by another and works for wages or salary without regard to whether the employment be legal or illegal.' Am. Sur. Co. v. City of Clarksville, 315 S.W.2d 509, 513 (Tenn. 1958). Further, the Tennessee Supreme Court has recognized that 'employment which has been obtained by the making of false statements- whether by a minor or an adult, is still employment; that is, the technical illegality will not of itself destroy compensation coverage.' Fed. Copper & Aluminum Co. v.Dickey, 493 S.W.2d 463, 465 (Tenn. 1973) (quoting 1A Larson’s Workmen’s Compensation Law, § 47.53, at 800)."

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