Workers' compensation is sometimes viewed as a compromise between employees and employers: workers give up the right to sue for large awards in court in exchange for certain and timely, albeit relatively lower, reimbursement for work-related injuries and illnesses. Employers accept responsibility for these injuries and illnesses even if they are not at fault, but they no longer have to worry about being tied up in court or about potential liability for large verdicts.
Examples of Retaliation
Most commonly, people think of employer retaliation in the form of retaliatory discharge - unjustly firing an employee for pursuing his or her workers' compensation rights. But improper employer retaliation can also come in other forms short of termination, such as discrimination or harassment in the following ways:
Legal Remedies for Retaliation
Although a relatively recent development, most states have some legal remedy for employees whose employers have retaliated against them for taking workers' compensation action. Many states have legislatively created legal protections for such employees. These remedies may be available through state agencies and/or in court actions. Even where legislative action has not protected such workers, many states' courts have allowed retaliatory discharge lawsuits for exercising workers' compensation rights. Some states allow both statutory and court-created or common-law remedies; other states may only provide for one or the other. The remedies available vary from state to state, so it is a good idea to consult a lawyer to learn about your particular options.
Justifiable Employer Action
Employers may still legitimately terminate or discipline any employee, regardless of workers' compensation status, as long as the negative action is not a pretext for workers' compensation retaliation and the action does not violate any other employment laws.
Stand up for yourself if you have been the victim of employer retaliation in response to the exercise of your workers' compensation rights. A skilled attorney from our firm can advise you of the law in your state surrounding workers' compensation retaliation.