Filing For Worker's Compensation? What You Should Know About Retaliation
Filing for worker's compensation benefits after a work injury shouldn't leave you questioning the security of your job. Unfortunately, there are no federal laws to prevent your employer from retaliating against you for filing a claim. As of 2012, fourteen states lack legal protection for employees who are treated unfairly or terminated due to a worker's compensation claim.
If you are in one of the states or territories with laws that protect worker's compensation claimants, it's in your best interest to understand what can be construed as retaliation so that you know when to call a worker's compensation attorney for support.
What Could be Considered Retaliation?
Although some of the specifics can vary from state to state, most of the laws against retaliation prohibit demotions, pay reductions, unjustified disciplinary actions and unwarranted poor performance appraisals. Additionally, these laws offer protection against termination due to your worker's compensation claim. In order for it to be considered retaliation, though, you'll have to be able to prove that the action wasn't otherwise justified.
How Do You Prove Retaliation?
In order to prove a case of retaliation by your employer, you'll have to be able to show the court that the action in question was motivated by your worker's compensation claim. This is typically the hardest part of the entire process, and it can be the most subjective.
Some states ask you to show that filing the claim could be considered a substantial factor in the action that your employer took while other states mandate that you prove that worker's compensation claim was the sole factor in the action.
In states that require you to show that your claim was the sole factor, you'll have to be able to prove beyond question that the facts claimed by your employer were not true. Since most employers use negative performance reviews or employment-at-will laws for termination and position changes, this can be complex.
Additionally, most courts will need to evaluate your employment record. If there is any evidence of wrongdoing on your part, such as a company policy violation or poor performance, you may not have a reasonable retaliation claim. It's in your best interest to ensure that you are performing to the best of your ability at all times, even after a worker's compensation claim.
If you can show a connection between when the company was notified of your worker's compensation claim and when the employment action was taken, some courts will view it as an inferred connection. Similarly, your attorney may subpoena employment records to show that other employees were not subject to the same treatment for similar actions.
Whether you live in a state that offers retaliation protection or not, you should always reach out to a worker's compensation attorney for help with your case. He or she can provide you some legal guidance about how to protect yourself and get the financial support that you may be eligible for.
To learn more, contact a company like Large & Associates Attorneys with any questions you have.