final until disposition of any timely and authorized motion
under Fla. R. App. P. 9.330 or 9.331.
of Accident: July 17, 2017.
appeal from an order of the Judge of Compensation Claims.
Thomas A. Hedler, Judge.
C. Wiitala of Wiitala & Contole, P.A., North Palm Beach,
Rayford H. Taylor of Hall Booth Smith, P.C., Atlanta, GA, and
Andrew R. Borah of Hurley, Rogner, Miller, Cox, Waranch &
Westcott, P.A., Deerfield Beach, for Appellees.
Edna Hernandez appeals the order by the Judge of Compensation
Claims (JCC) denying her entitlement to any workers'
compensation benefits due to her fraudulent provision of an
invalid social security number (SSN). We affirm.
an illegal alien without a valid SSN, was injured at work and
her employer/carrier later directed her to a medical care
provider. Claimant was advised that she would be required to
present a SSN, and the registration form indeed included a
place to enter a SSN and a statement that the "claim
could be denied if you do not provide the information."
Claimant admitted that she entered an invalid SSN on the form
because she believed she needed to do so to obtain authorized
440.09(4)(a), Florida Statutes, prohibits an employee from
receiving workers' compensation benefits if he or she
commits any act described in section 440.105, Florida
Statutes, "for the purpose of securing workers'
compensation benefits." Section 440.105(4)(b) prohibits
employees from making fraudulent, false, or misleading
statements. See, e.g., §
440.105(4)(b)9., Fla. Stat. ("It shall be unlawful for
any person . . . [t]o knowingly present or cause to be
presented any false, fraudulent, or misleading oral or
written statement to any person as evidence of identity for
the purpose of obtaining employment or filing or supporting a
claim for workers' compensation benefits."). The
employer/carrier argued that Claimant violated section
440.105(4)(b)9. by fraudulently providing an invalid SSN to
obtain workers' compensation benefits, and thus was not
entitled to benefits. "In deciding this issue, the JCC
had to answer two questions. The first is whether Claimant
made or caused to be made false, fraudulent or misleading
statements. The second is whether the statement was intended
by Claimant to be for the purpose of obtaining
benefits." Arreola v. Admin. Concepts, 17 So.3d
792, 794 (Fla. 1st DCA 2009). The JCC answered both questions
affirmatively and denied Claimant's claim.
appeal, Claimant argues that section 440.105(4) is
unconstitutional as applied to her because it is preempted by
the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), citing
Arizona v. United States, 567 U.S. 387, 401 (2012),
and State v. Garcia, 401 P.3d 588 (Kan. 2017),
cert. granted in part, 139 S.Ct. 1317 (2019). These
authorities do not support relief.
a 2010 Arizona law made it a state crime for illegal aliens
"to knowingly apply for work, solicit work in a public
place or perform work as an employee or independent
contractor in [Arizona]." Ariz.Rev.Stat. Ann. §
13-2928(C). Discussing the IRCA's "comprehensive
framework for 'combating the employment of illegal
aliens, '" the Supreme Court noted that employers
are penalized criminally and civilly for violating it, but
employees are not. Arizona, 567 U.S. at 404 (quoting
Hoffman Plastic Compounds, Inc. v. NLRB, 535 U.S.
137, 147, 122 S.Ct. 1275, 152 L.Ed.2d 271 (2002)). The
Supreme Court held that Congress was clear "that any
information employees submit to indicate their work status
'may not be used' for purposes other than prosecution
under specified federal criminal statutes for fraud, perjury,
and related conduct." Id. at 405 (quoting 8
U.S.C. §§ 1324a(b)(5), (d)(2)(F)-(G)). Thus, this
section of the Arizona law was preempted by IRCA because
"Congress decided it would be inappropriate to impose
criminal penalties on aliens who seek or engage in
unauthorized employment." Id. at 406.
Garcia, a false SSN an employee provided was used on
an I-9 form (an employment eligibility form authorized by the
IRCA) to verify his identity and employment authorization,
and this information was subsequently transferred to a W-4
tax form. 401 P.3d at 590. The State of Kansas charged Garcia
with identity theft and planned to use the W-4 as evidence,
and the trial court refused to suppress it. Id.
Garcia argued that the W-4 could not be used because the
information on it was also on the I-9. See 8 U.S.C.
§ 1324a(b)(5) ("A form designated or established by
the Attorney General under this subsection and any
information contained in or appended to such form, may not be
used for purposes other than for enforcement of this
chapter" or certain other federal statutes). The state
supreme court agreed, holding that "[s]tates are
prohibited from using the I-9 and any information
contained within the I-9 as the bases for a state law
identity theft prosecution of an alien who uses another's
Social Security information in an I- 9. The fact that this
information was included in the W-4 and [a related state tax
document] did not alter the fact that it was also part of the
I-9." Id. at 599.
of whether we agree with Garcia, it does not
control, nor does Arizona. Here, Claimant does not
allege that the invalid SSN she provided to obtain
workers' compensation benefits was ever previously
provided for employment verification purposes. Instead, she
argues that section 440.105(4) is unconstitutional because
her provision of a false SSN "implicates and touches
upon her immigration status" and thus is preempted by
IRCA. However, she cites no provision of IRCA prohibiting
information potentially relevant to an employee's
immigration status-that was not provided to obtain
employment-from being used for any other
purpose. As we have previously held, a
claimant's lack of lawful immigration status is not a
defense to providing fraudulent information to obtain
[A]ny false, incomplete, or misleading information which the
JCC concludes was provided to obtain benefits results in
forfeiture of benefits. . . . Illegal aliens are, of course,
covered by the Florida Workers' Compensation Law.
However, no special rules apply to undocumented workers. Like
any other employee, they must comply with the statute in
order to obtain the statute's benefits. In ...