When a worker develops an injury or disabling medical condition related to their job, they typically have the right to claim workers’ compensation benefits. When a worker’s condition requires a leave of absence, they can receive disability pay. In fact, there is also partial disability pay available for those who must work lower-paying jobs during their recovery.
Workers’ compensation also offers comprehensive medical coverage that does not pass treatment costs on to the worker. Your right to file a claim has protection under state and federal employment laws. Your employer should theoretically cooperate with you when you file a claim, but some businesses will seek to punish employees who make use of protective systems like workers’ compensation insurance.
If a company retaliates against you, you may be able to hold them accountable for that violation of your rights. What does retaliation look like?
Terminating you for filing a claim
Employers can generally fire someone for no reason whatsoever, but they can’t terminate your employment for an illegal reason. It is against the law to fire a worker because they report an injury or file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Despite clear rules protecting workers who need benefits, some companies will terminate them anyway.
They refuse to accommodate a worker’s limitation
Whether you broke your arm or have developed carpal tunnel syndrome, there may be reasonable limitations on what functions you can perform at work. When you have a doctor’s note explaining those limitations, your employer should help you.
It is a company’s obligation to offer reasonable accommodations to any worker with a disabling medical condition. If your employer refuses to offer basic support in the workplace, that may be a form of discrimination or retaliation.
They take issue with your changing performance
An injury serious enough to warrant a workers’ compensation claim will almost certainly have a temporary impact on how you perform your job or how quickly you do certain tasks. Some companies will write up their workers or give them subpar performance reviews when the change in their job performance directly relates to an injury obtained on the job. Your employer should help support you until you recover, not punish you for speaking up about your injuries.
Recognizing warning signs of retaliation can help you take the necessary steps to protect yourself as a worker receiving or applying for workers’ compensation benefits.