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Employers cannot retaliate against workers who file claims

Retaliation refers to negative consequences or punishments that an employer inflicts on an employee who files a claim or complaint against the employer. For example, an employee might suffer a work-related injury, file a workers' compensation claim, and then get fired as a result. This would be an example of unlawful retaliation and unlawful termination.

A worker should never hesitate to file a workers' compensation claim in fear of retaliation from their boss. When an employer retaliates against a worker in response to the employee's filing of a claim, it's a violation of the law.


Clues that point to workers' compensation retaliation

The following employer actions may indicate they are illegally retaliating against workers:

  • An employer says that it's been hit by too many workers' compensation claims and it starts asking workers to use their personal insurance to pay for their work-related injuries.
  • An employee gets fired after the denial of a workers' compensation claim.
  • The employer tried to hide medical records following a work-related injury, then tried to demand that the employee say his or her injury happened at home. When the employee refused, the employee lost his or her job.
  • An employer fires a worker following the completion of a workers' compensation claim settlement.
  • Immediately after filing a workers' compensation claim, the employee loses his or her job.

What if an employee files a workers' compensation claim without merit?

Some employees might be concerned that their workers' compensation claim isn't strong enough to risk the threat of retaliation. For example, imagine a worker who has suffered from back pain issues his or her entire life. If the worker's current employment worsens those back issues to the point that the worker requires additional medical treatment, the employer and its insurer might be able to argue that the worker had an existing condition that doesn't warrant compensation. However -- and this is very important -- even if a court decides that an employee's worker's compensation claim was frivolous and without merit, the employer cannot lawfully terminate, demote or inflict any other kind of retaliatory consequence on the employee.

Injured workers should never refrain from exercising their right to file a workers' compensation claim out of the fear of retaliation. Instead, they should understand that in the event of an unlawful workers' compensation retaliation, the law will be on their side.


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