When a worker is hurt on the job, they are strongly advised to immediately report this to their supervisor. Their employer may then send them to a doctor the very same day, if needed. Then, that employee can choose to file for workers’ compensation benefits if they would like, assuming that their employer offers this type of coverage.
Unfortunately, during a time of hardship and recovery, some employees may find they are the victims of employer retaliation. Despite most states prohibiting employer retaliation against employees who have filed for or are using workers’ compensation benefits, this unlawful conduct still happens.
I was hurt at work and want to pursue workers’ compensation, but I am afraid that my boss will fire me. What are the chances I’ll be let go?
When employees get hurt and use workers’ compensation benefits, it does cost the company money. The more reports that are submitted regarding worker injury, the more the company will likely have to pay in insurance costs. An employer may be tempted to fire an employee who filed an expensive claim under workers’ compensation. However, this would be in violation of that worker’s rights.
Many states do have laws that protect workers from retaliation, but sadly, a boss may let an employee go in such a way where they think it was for a different reason. For instance, as a workers’ claim is being processed, an employer may begin to reprimand them for being late or poor performance (when it isn’t true). So, once the worker gets approved for benefits it will seem like they were let go for other reasons.
How can I show proof that I am being retaliated against by my employer?
Anyone who is noticing they are being treated differently in a negative way by their employer or coworkers after pursuing workers’ compensation benefits, is encouraged to talk with an attorney for protection. While the laws for workers’ compensation retaliation can vary by state, there are a few general elements that must be proven in order to win a case against your employer:
- That you are an employee under the workers’ compensation law, and are entitled to receive such benefits
- That you utilized a “protected activity” (like filing for workers’ compensation)
- That you experienced adverse employer actions afterwards
- That your employer was motivated by your use of a protected activity to inflict adverse actions
What are examples of an employer inflicting “adverse actions?”
When an employer retaliates against an employee for applying for or using workers’ compensation benefits, it can take on many forms. Some actions may be less obvious, while others are very direct. Anyone who isn’t sure whether they are experiencing retaliation must talk with an attorney, like a Milwaukee work injury lawyer from Hickey & Turim, SC, about their situation before the matter can escalate further. Examples of retaliation can include:
- Demoting the employee
- Transferring the employee to another department
- Lowering the employee’s pay
- Hindering the employee’s chances of an eligible promotion
- Inflicting disciplinary actions that are unwarranted
- Firing the employee
- Purposefully making the work environment hostile