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Posted on: Jul 19, 2021

As part of CAAA’s Amicus Committee, members William Herreras and Beatriz Trejo submitted an amicus curiae brief last week in support of Rigoberto Jose Manuel, a landscaper who filed a worker’s compensation claim against his employer and was subsequently terminated.

In the case, Rigoberto Jose Manuel vs Superior Court of Santa Clara County (Brightview Landscape Services, Inc.), Mr. Manuel’s employer seeks to inquire about his immigration status – an attempted retaliatory move for filing a workers compensation claim against him.

In the amicus curiae brief, Herreras and Trejo outlined when the California Legislature extended workers compensation benefits to ALL workers in the state of California, this was irrespective of their immigration status. They also pointed to the passage of Senate Bill 1818 which protects undocumented workers from employers who would retaliate against them for invoking their right to file workers’ compensation claims.

Herreras and Trejo state that if this case prevails in the appellate court, it could jeopardize the ability for ANY worker in the State of California- but most notably those who are undocumented- from making worker’s compensation claims against their employers for fear of losing their jobs and being deported. Furthermore, employers will be more inclined to hire undocumented workers and neglect to make workplace safety a top priority.

Why is this case important to CAAA?

Because undocumented workers could be forced to relinquish their rights if they are asked to reveal their immigration status in any court proceeding, including workers compensation cases.

Any CAAA members who are interested in taking a position in the appellate court in support of Mr. Manuel are encouraged to do so. In the meantime, let us hope this court decision is decided favorably- especially for those most vulnerable: the undocumented in California. 

Article contributed by CAAA Director of Communications, Cynthia Moreno