If you've been injured on the job and thought about filing a worker's compensation claim, you may have worried about how that could affect your employment. Could your boss fire you for filing a worker's compensation claim?
The short answer is no: Most states make it illegal to retaliate against an employee who files a worker's comp claim. That said, there are a few ins and outs to be aware of when filing your claim.
Your first priority following a workplace injury should be to promptly and accurately report the incident to your employer. While this may be easier said than done, most businesses will have strict protocols for worker's compensation claims, and you don't want to jeopardize your benefits by filing too late or incorrectly.
Punishing an employee for exercising his or her legal rights is known as employee retaliation. This can include everything from negative performance reviews to reassignment or even termination. Recent reporting has shown that while workplace injuries are down, employer retaliation claims are up.
As a general rule, it is illegal to retaliate against an employee for exercising a right under the law. This is especially true for workplace injuries and reporting unsafe working conditions. If you are injured at work because of a workplace safety hazard, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has specific protections in place for employees who report unsafe working conditions, known as whistleblower protections.
If you believe you've been fired solely because you filed a worker's comp claim, you may have legal recourse against your employer, in the form of a wrongful termination lawsuit. You should be aware however, that retaliation claims are notoriously hard to prove.
All workplace injuries are different, and an experienced worker's compensation attorney may be able to assess your specific circumstances and possible legal claims.