The Minnesota Supreme Court issued a decision last month in Sanchez v. Dahlke Trailers, Inc. that is a victory for undocumented workers in Minnesota, and, more generally, for all employees in Minnesota who are terminated by their employers because they seek workers’ compensation benefits.
Respondent Anibal Sanchez is an undocumented worker from Mexico who had lived in the United States since 1998 without legal authorization. He began working for Appellant Dahlke Trailers in 2005, and alleged that his supervisors at Dahlke became aware soon after the beginning of his employment that he was undocumented, making several comments to him over the years about his legal status. In September of 2013, Sanchez filed for workers’ compensation benefits after being injured at work. When he hired an attorney to represent him in his workers’ compensation proceeding, his supervisor at Dahlke told him that the “bridge” between them was “broken” because Sanchez was seeking workers’ compensation benefits. During a deposition for the workers’ compensation case, the insurer’s attorney asked Sanchez if he was legally authorized to work in the US, to which Sanchez responded that he was not. Following the deposition, Dahlke sent Sanchez a letter stating that he was being suspended indefinitely without pay until he could produce documentation showing he was authorized to work in the United States.