Government data consistently affirms that foreign-born workers in the U.S. experience high rates of on-the-job illness and injury. This article explores whether—and under what circumstances—these occupational harms suffered by immigrant workers constitute a dignity taking. The article argues that some injuries suffered by foreign-born workers are indirect takings by the state due to the government’s lackluster oversight and limited penalties for violations of occupational safety and health laws. Using a framework of the body as property, the article then explores when work-related injury constitutes an infringement upon a property right. The article contends that the government’s weak enforcement apparatus, coupled with state-sanctioned hostility towards immigrants, creates an environment where immigrant workers are deemed to be sub-persons, and where employer impunity abounds. Drawing upon data gleaned from a research study of immigrant day laborers in northern Virginia, the article describes a range of practices by employers in cases of workplace accidents, noting the circumstances that are indicative of dehumanization, and thus, dignity takings.
Rachel Nadas & Jayesh Rathod,
Damaged Bodies, Damaged Lives: Immigrant Worker Injuries as Dignity Takings,
Chi.-Kent L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.kentlaw.iit.edu/cklawreview/vol92/iss3/21