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Leveraging Health Capital at the Workplace: An Examination of Health Reporting Behavior among Latino Immigrant Restaurant Workers in the United States

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This article examines the choices made by a sample of Latino immigrant restaurant workers in regard to their health management, particularly in response to illness and injury. I draw on 33 interviews with kitchen staff employed in the mainstream restaurant industry in San Jose, California, and Houston, Texas, in 2006 and 2007. I argue that workers must consider complex power relationships at work in weighing the advantages of calling in sick, using protective equipment, seeking medical care, or filing a workers' compensation claim. These decisions implicate direct and opportunity costs, such as risk of job loss and missed opportunities for advancement. Workers consequently leverage their health capital to meet their economic needs, to assert their autonomy at the workplace, and to ultimately reject the stigma of illness and injury.

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2012-01-01

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United States; immigrant; occupational health; pain; rights; claims-making; Latino restaurant workers

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Required Publisher Statement: © Elsevier. Final version published as: Gleeson, S. (2012). Leveraging health capital at the workplace: An examination of health reporting behavior among Latino immigrant restaurant workers in the United States [Electronic version]. Social Science & Medicine, 75(12), 2291-2298. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.08.031 Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

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