If you’ve read this blog before, you know from previous posts that your immigration status does not, by itself, bar you from recovering damages if you’ve been injured working on a construction job. However, what happens if your situation is more complicated than simply being undocumented? What if you’ve been working under a name that differs from your real name? Will the fact that you’ve been using an alias prevent you from seeking justice if you get hurt at your construction job? According to the New York courts, the answer is a clear “no,” with a recent ruling from the Appellate Division, Second Department serving as a reminder of this.
The facts of the case were not unlike the circumstances that face many construction workers today. A worker came to the United States in the 1990s from Brazil. He was not a documented immigrant. Whenever he went in search of work, he used the name of one of his friends. This friend’s name appeared on all of his employment papers and his lead certification card.
Then, one day in 2010, the worker injured himself while working on a bridge painting job. He sued for his injuries, alleging that the defendants had violated Section 241(6) of the New York Labor Law. In his court filings, he used the name that was on his employment documents. However, in a deposition, he divulged his actual name. Two of the defendants then asked the court to throw out the case. The plaintiff’s use of a false name in his court papers constituted a “fraud upon the court,” they argued, and required dismissal.
The courts –- both the trial court and the Appellate Division –- rejected this defense argument. In order for an action to be a “fraud upon the court,” it must be something that will “undermine the truth-seeking function of the judicial system and place in question the integrity of the courts and our system of justice.” It must be something that stands in the way of the court adjudicating the case fairly or the defendants defending themselves fully.
This injured worker’s situation didn’t involve anything of the sort. There was no proof that the worker’s use of an alias gave him any advantage at all in this case. Without proof of such an unfair advantage, there could be no “fraud upon the court,” and the defense wasn’t entitled to a dismissal, according to the courts.
If you’re an undocumented worker who has been injured on a construction job, don’t make the mistake of thinking that your immigration status stops you from pursuing justice in a labor law claim or from seeking workers’ compensation benefits. Even if you’re undocumented and use an alias at work, you still have rights under the law. If you or a loved one has been hurt working in construction, call the law offices of Oresky & Associates, pllc. for legal help. Our team of New York City construction accident attorneys has a long track record of providing effective assistance representing injured workers throughout the New York metro area, including in Westchester County and on Long Island. We pride ourselves on providing our clients with the attentive service and personal dedication that they may not get elsewhere. We understand that your injury is a traumatic situation for you, and we seek to provide diligent advocacy to pursue an outcome that will meet your present and future needs.
For a free case evaluation, contact us online or call our office at 718-993-9999. Our phones are answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.