The short answer to the title question is no. By law, your employer cannot fire you for filing a workers’ compensation claim. In fact, your employer cannot retaliate against you in any way for filing such a claim.
Covered Retaliatory Actions
Each state has its own work comp laws, rules and regulations. It also has its own laws regarding what constitutes employer retaliation. In general, however, your employer is prohibited from doing any of the following when you file a work comp claim:
- Firing you
- Discriminating against you
- Harassing you
- Punishing you
- Demoting you
- Cutting your pay
- Changing your job responsibilities
- Subjecting you to unwarranted disciplinary action
Keep in mind that one of your main employee rights is that of filing a workers’ compensation claim whenever you sustain an on-the-job injury or contract a work-related illness. In fact, in most states, this is your exclusive remedy for obtaining compensation for these types of injuries and illnesses. Consequently, your employer cannot interfere with this right.
Suing Your Employer
If you believe you have been the victim of retaliatory action after filing a work comp claim, you may have a valid discrimination case against your employer. Your wisest strategy is to consult with an experienced local workers’ compensation lawyer or employment discrimination lawyer. He or she can listen to your story, assess what happened when and advise you of whether you have an actionable complaint.
If you do, you will not necessarily need to prove at trial that your work comp claim was the sole reason why your employer retaliated against you. You will, however, likely need to prove that your employer’s actions against you were unfair, unjustified and not based on any legitimate business reason. One way to prove this is by presenting evidence showing that you were the only employee against whom your employer took the prohibited action(s).
Your employer, of course, has the right to dispute your allegations and present evidence of his or her own.
If you win your lawsuit, you likely will recover any pay or benefits you lost because of your employer’s retaliatory action(s). Depending on the laws of your state, plus the facts of your case, you may also recover the following:
- Pain and suffering damages
- Punitive damages
- Your attorney’s fees
- Your litigation costs
Unfortunately, employer retaliation cases are quite complicated and usually take a long time to conclude. Your attorney can act not only as your guide throughout the process, but also as your champion. If you have questions about a workers compensation case contact a workers compensation attorney, like the offices of Hurwitz, Whitcher & Molloy, Attorneys at Law for a consultation.