What is workers’ compensation?
Workers’ compensation is payment to compensate an employee if the employee suffers an injury or ailment resulting from their work. It may include money for wage replacement, medical treatment, rehabilitation, and other benefits.
Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance. An employer pays a premium to an insurance company in exchange for coverage. That means that an employer does not pay the compensation directly if the insurer approves an employee’s claim for workers’ compensation, but the employer’s premiums may rise with more claims—especially more costly claims.
In California, every business with more than one employee is required by law to have workers’ compensation insurance.
What is workers’ compensation retaliation?
Although employers do not directly pay for workplace injuries, employees who report workplace injuries may indirectly impact the cost of workers’ compensation insurance for their employers. By filing more claims, the employees may increase the employers’ premiums. Thus, some employers reflexively mistrust workers who file workers’ compensation claims or hold their claims against them.
Additionally, in some industries, employers must notify regulators of workplace injuries. This requirement may also, in turn, lead employers to become annoyed with complaints about workplace injuries and/or resent employees who become injured.
Unfortunately, some employers may retaliate against workers who file workers’ compensation claims. Retaliation is defined as an adverse change to the conditions of employment. It takes many forms; in severe cases, an employer may retaliate by firing a worker for made-up or unfair reasons. More incremental retaliatory actions include reducing hours, changing work schedules, taking away job responsibilities, or slashing pay or benefits. These are just examples.
What should I do if I am experiencing workers’ compensation retaliation?
If your employer fires you because you made a workers’ compensation claim or reported a workplace injury, you should contact an experienced workplace retaliation attorney to evaluate your potential claims.
If you have experienced other forms of retaliation, it is a good idea to document your concerns by making a formal complaint to Human Resources or your supervisor. Legally, your employer cannot retaliate further because you made a complaint.
Do I also have a claim for disability discrimination?
Workers who experience workers’ compensation retaliation may also experience disability discrimination or failure to accommodate. California law protects those who have suffered any injury or disease which substantially impacts major life activities, like walking, lifting, bending, etc.
If your employer refuses to grant you reasonable working accommodations or medical leave after you have suffered a workplace injury, you should contact an experienced employment attorney to evaluate your potential claims. If your employer fires you because of your disability or requests for accommodation and/or leave, you should also speak to an experienced employment attorney to evaluate your potential claims.
Can I pursue a claim for workers' compensation retaliation in court?
Yes. In fact, if you are wrongfully terminated because you filed a workers' compensation claim, you may be able to obtain a larger recovery in court than in workers' compensation proceedings. This is true for at least two reasons. First, wrongful termination claims often are made in front of a jury, as opposed to a judge, and juries tend to award more money. Second, your employer may have a separate employment practices insurance policy that covers wrongful termination claims.
For these reasons, we always recommend that you consider bringing workers' compensation retaliation claims in court when possible.
Talk to an Experienced Employment Lawyer Today
At King & Siegel LLP, we have helped hundreds of workers hold employers accountable through legal actions. If you have been retaliated against for filing workers’ compensation claims or faced disability discrimination after suffering a workplace injury, our attorneys are here to help.
Need legal help? We provide free, confidential consultations to California workers. You should contact us as soon as possible to make sure your claim is still within the time limits set by law. If you have been retaliated against or experienced discrimination, contact us today through our website or give us a call at (213) 214-3757 to schedule a free consultation.