Retaliation Against an Employee for Pursuing Workers Comp Benefits
Employees who file for workers compensation benefits, may be subject to wrongful employer retaliation. A company may suffer from financial loss due to having to pay for the cost of injury care. While the laws of each state vary, the overall idea is the same in that negative action taken by an employer for a worker utilizing their right to coverage is unlawful. An employer may get creative and try to make it look like certain actions are being taken for other reasons, when the retaliation is actually motivated by the workers use of benefits. It is imperative that a worker who believes they are being retaliated against, consults with an attorney before things worsen.
Q: Can my employer really fire me for using workers’ compensation benefits?
A: Employers who are under pressure to cut costs, may then be faced with an increase insurance rate, and are tempted to seek revenge against the injured employee. The employee has the right to pursue workers compensation benefits, but the employer may find a way to either mishandle the application or inflict punishments anyway. In most states, an employer who fires an employee for filing or using workers compensation benefits, is violating the law.
Q: How can I show that my employer retaliated against me?
A: Speak with an attorney to find out what laws and protections apply to you, based on the state you reside in. In general, to win a case of workplace retaliation, it must be shown that:
- The person was an employee, and entitled to receive workers comp benefits under law
- The employee reported the incident right away to the employer and filled out the necessary paperwork
- The employee endured negative actions from the employer, such as being fired or had a change in the terms of employment
- The employer was motivated to retaliate due to the employee utilizing his or her rights to seek workers comp benefits
Q: What actions are viewed as unlawful retaliation?
A: There may be slight variations between states as to what behaviors are deemed unlawful retaliation. But in general, actions such as demotions, changes in position, lowered pay, being prevented from receiving promotions, unwarranted disciplinary actions, and moving to another department are all examples of wrongful retaliation. An attorney can offer more clarification as to whether your situation entails subliminal or blatant workplace retaliation.
Q: Is an employer more likely to be obviously vengeful or more discreet?
Employers may be more or less obvious about how they retaliate against an employee. Some employers may meet with the worker and make threats without any witnesses present, as a way to frighten the employee into being quiet. In other cases, the employer may make up stories about the employee to get him or her fired, when the real reason is that he or she utilized workers compensation benefits. If you are unsure whether this has happened to you, consider talking with a workers compensation lawyer Memphis, TN relies on who is knowledgeable in workers compensation programs.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at Darrell Castle & Associates, PLLC for their insight into workers compensation and employer retaliation.