Yes: The Defense Base Act Applies to Foreign Nationals
In general, employees of contractors and subcontractors under a government contract with the U.S. Department of Defense are entitled to benefits under the Defense Base Act (DBA), regardless of their nationality. Accordingly, employers should obtain adequate insurance coverage for all employees working outside the United States pursuant to their government contract. This includes host country nationals – also known as local hires – and third-country foreign nationals that have been employed from another country to perform work for the U.S. government in the host country.
When Congress passed the DBA, it expressly included coverage for local nationals. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has held that the DBA provides workers’ compensation benefits for workers in remote parts of the world that are known for its dangerous working conditions that put both U.S. citizens and local hires at risk. Because the risk of injury in such locations does not discriminate based on citizenship, doing so for local nations working for the U.S. would result in an unfair and unjust outcome.
Waiver of the DBA for Foreign Countries
However, upon request by a U.S. department or government agency, the Secretary of Labor has the authority to waive application of the DBA regarding foreign nationals who’ve been employed by the U.S. government, its contractors, and subcontractors. The waiver will only be valid if the foreign employees are covered by alternate workers’ compensation coverage under applicable local law. If the local government does not have applicable workers’ compensation laws, the waiver is not effective, and the foreign nationals employed in connection with a U.S. contract will be covered under the DBA.
The following countries, among others, are subject to DBA waivers currently in effect:
- American Samoa
- South Korea
- United Kingdom
Contact a Dedicated Legal Advocate Today
If you are a foreign national working pursuant to a government contract with the United States, injuries you sustain on the job may qualify for compensation benefits under the DBA. To better determine the nature and extent of your rights under the DBA, you should consult an experienced attorney from The Law Offices of George P. Escobedo & Associates, PLLC for Legal Advice. We have a sophisticated understanding of federal administrative laws to help ensure your right to recover compensation for your injuries are properly compensated according to federal laws.
Call us at (210) 807-3178 or contact us online today for a free consultation about your claim today.