A recent New York Times article shone a light on something that many people in and around the construction industry already knew: many of the workers involved in some of New York City’s riskiest construction work are Hispanic or Latino. Too many employers and contractors rely on workers’ undocumented status and fear of governmental action to place them in jobs where corners are cut, and worker safeguards are inadequate or nonexistent. Those employers use undocumented workers’ unfamiliarity with the legal system, and fear of being reported and possibly deported, to keep them from speaking out about illegal safety shortcuts. If you’re hurt in a New York construction accident, don’t be intimidated into silence. You have rights, whether you’re documented or undocumented. Contact a New York City construction accident attorney right away to learn more about your legal options.
According to the Times report, 10 of the 12 New York construction workers who died on the job last year were Latino. 50% or more of all construction workers on non-unions jobs are Latino, while roughly 30% of workers on union jobs are Latino, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Some employers are very safety conscious. Others, however, are more concerned with cost savings and meeting deadlines than following all of New York’s safety rules and regulations. That latter group often counts on undocumented Latinos’ fears to keep them silent. These workers may recognize that their sites are not safe, but be afraid to speak out for fear of being reported.
For example, last summer, S.H., an immigrant from Ecuador, was working in the Bronx. One day, he told his wife he was going to find a new job. A week later, before he could make that job change, he died. The building in which he was working collapsed, trapping him under several hundred pounds of rubble.