What Injured Workers Can Do About Workplace Retaliation

Legal Tips and Resources

Those who were injured on the job and filed for worker’s compensation benefits must be wary of workplace retaliation. Of course, no employee wants to imagine their boss being vengeful against them for making use of their right to file for worker’s compensation after a work-related accident. But, many employees may be let down to find out that their employer is not on their side. Sometimes, employers can become so hostile that what started off as awkward tensions can quickly turn into a workplace retaliation situation. 

Anyone who is concerned that their employer has done something sneaky or unlawful when handling their workplace injury, must seek legal counsel immediately. An employer may attempt to wrongfully terminate an employee for using worker’s compensation benefits, potentially causing the employee to suffer immense financial hardship. 

Read on to find out more about how to protect yourself in such a predicament: 

Q: Who is protected from workplace retaliation under law?

A: Laws regarding the protection of injured workers vary based on the state you live in. In general, to be protected you must be an employee and the company must have a worker’s compensation program set in place or be self-insured. The employee must have acted in good faith when filing for worker’s compensation benefits. It is important that the employee’s claim was of complete honesty and transparency, because if not, then he or she may not be protected against workplace retaliation from their employer. 

Q: What actions are deemed retaliation against an injured worker?

A: After an employee gets injured, he or she may file a worker’s compensation claim to get coverage for medical bills and loss wages if taking time away from work is deemed necessary by the treating doctor. An employer may react less than supportively to this news, as this means the company may have to pay a substantial amount of money in medical care. An employer may retaliate in a number of unlawful ways, including:

  • Demoting the employee
  • Changing the employee’s job duties or responsibilities (in attempt to demote)
  • Inflicting unwarranted disciplinary actions
  • Decreasing pay
  • Transferring to another department or location
  • Firing the employee
  • Mishandling the worker’s compensation claim by turning it in late, providing false information, or failing to file the paperwork entirely
  • Creating a hostile work environment (through verbal harassment or threats)

Q: What can I do if my employer has treated me poorly since the workplace accident?

A: There is a difference between uncomfortable tension between employee and employer after a workplace accident, and an employer taking action against the employee with revenge as the motivator. An injured worker who feels that their employer retaliated against them, may want to seek legal help right away for advice. 

These matters can be quite serious, and could leave the employee having to pay out-of-pocket for medical care treatment that should have fallen upon the employer instead. The behavior on behalf of the employer may be obviously illegal, to where gathering proof is easy. But in other cases, it requires the strategy of an experienced workers comp lawyer in Queens, NY to uncover evidence to use in a retaliation claim. 

Thanks to Polsky, Shouldice & Rosen, P.C. for their insight into workers compensation and what to do about workplace retaliation after submitting a claim.