Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Literally scalped at work, young Chattanooga woman neither reports nor self-deports

Few aware that compensation for injury available to all workers despite immigration status

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports here on the fear among unvisaed Hispanic workers when it comes to reporting injuries on the job, even though Tennessee law requires payment of workers compensation claims regardless of immigration status.

One young Chattanooga woman is reported to have had her scalp literally ripped off on the job, but she will not report it because she is afraid of being deported out of the U.S.:
Joe Wolverton, a worker’s compensation attorney reaching out to the Hispanic community, opened his office in the Highland Park neighborhood about three months ago and says he’s heard about people who are afraid to speak out.

“We had a girl that had her hair caught in a machine and had her scalp ripped off,” he said. “This young lady was about 23, her whole life in front of her, but now she is disfigured. But she didn’t want to pursue the worker’s (compensation) case because she said she was here without papers, hadn’t used her real name and was afraid immigration would come get her.”

Mr. Wolverton said he explains to immigrants that in Tennessee the immigration status of someone injured at work doesn’t matter.

“In Tennessee, regardless of one’s immigration status, if one is injured at work, then he has every right to receive compensation during his disability,” he said.
The article states that the non-Hispanic White population makes up 72% of reported work-related injuries in Tennessee; 14% are Black non-Hispanic; 19% are Hispanic; and 3% are Asian. The number of fatal occupational injuries in Tennessee are 118 White; 17 Black; 8 Hispanic; and 3 Asian.

Photo by Annie Reid. Licensed under Creative Commons.

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