Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)



Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Heide Castañeda, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Committee Member

Angela C. Stuesse, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Rebecca K. Zarger, Ph.D.


health disparities, health policy, health-related deservingness, immigrant health, labor, occupational health


Latino immigrants encounter an entanglement of rights and policies after occupational injury or illness. In collaboration with an immigrant worker center, ethnographic research and a survey are used to analyze injured workers’ experiences. The center uses survey results to identify common threads and systematic problems, and to explore potential direct action. Through interviews with workers and medical and legal professionals, I investigate the barriers Latino immigrants face following occupational injury or illness, how their lived experiences relate to the greater medicolegal frameworks that demarcate most formal processes of compensation and treatment, and the experiences of professionals who mediate these structures. Research results confirm that immigrant workers lack information about their labor rights and the workers’ compensation system, which prevents them from filing claims, and contributes to the underreporting of workplace injuries. However, this research project also documents how workers who do file claims and report injuries are systematically barred access to redress due to a confluence of factors including unresponsive and fraudulent employers, biases in the medical system, discourses of deservingness, insufficient protections from retaliation, and the effects of a market-based medical system. I argue that future work-related injury prevention efforts should go beyond rights education, and include reforms to the compensation system.