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Undocumented immigrants involved in workplace accidents can sue for lost wages, under a Sept. 22 ruling by the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, Second Department. The decision stands in contrast to a First Department ruling last year, which found that recovered wages for undocumented immigrants should correspond to the wages given in their native country. Both decisions sprung from a 2002 case called Hoffman Plastic Compounds v. National Labor Relations Bd., in which the United States Supreme Court ruled that any award of recovered wages to illegal aliens would run contrary the Immigration Reform and Control Act. In the Staten Island case, Stanislaw Majlinger, an undocumented Polish native, sued his employer, J&U Home Improvement, after he fell from a scaffold. The Staten Island Supreme Court ruled against Majlinger, citing Hoffman. In overturning the decision, Justice A. Gail Prudenti of the Second Department, ruled that employers of undocumented immigrants should not be allowed to ignore workplace safety and labor relations. If Hoffman is interpreted broadly, she wrote, “there may be nothing to prevent it from reaching so far as to eliminate all rights and protections under which undocumented aliens would otherwise be entitled.” (E. Holmgren)

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