Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Compensation claim suppression among migrant workers

The July issue of Anthropology of Work Review focuses on the criminalization of workers, specifically migrant workers. One particularly interesting article in this issue deals with undocumented workers in northern California.

Ghost Workers: The Implications of Governing Immigration Through Crime for Migrant Workplaces” examines the practice of employers requiring undocumented workers to “rent” legal identities as a condition of hire. This practice hides these workers from the state while acting as a source of income for employers. This illegal practice also renders undocumented workers vulnerable to charges of identity theft.

It also gives employers an additional and significant lever to use against undocumented workers. For example, workers using borrowed names were vulnerable to the employer outing them to authorities for identity theft if the workers filed a claim that they employer did not want filed. Workers who filed under their own names would not be listed on roster of employees for which the employer was insured and might well be revealed as undocumented workers. The result of these practices is that undocumented workers are rendered invisible and made highly vulnerable to employers’ economic interests.

-- Bob Barnetson

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