If an employee is injured on the job, then they have a right to compensation if that injury prevents them from continuing to work. Employers should be covered for this through insurance, and they should also be willing to assist the worker in any way that they can.
While most employers take this stance, some are opposed to workers’ compensation claims due to a fear of their insurance premiums rising. They may take disciplinary actions against workers for making a valid claim, such as demoting them, reducing their pay or even firing them. Is this lawful?
Your rights are protected
Disciplinary measures resulting from a valid workers’ compensation claim are forms of employment retaliation, which is unlawful. An employer cannot fire or discipline a worker, even if they suspect that the claim is fraudulent. They must wait until the process associated with the workers’ compensation claim is over before taking any form of action.
Importantly, workers’ compensation is not the only right that is protected by law. You cannot be disciplined for making a complaint against discrimination, harassment or reporting unlawful behavior within the company.
Doing the right thing
If your coworker has been injured at work, then they may also make a valid workers’ compensation claim. During this process, you may be asked to give testimony, particularly if you saw the incident unfold. If an employer takes a dim view of you doing the right thing, then they may opt to punish you. This is also a form of retaliation that is unlawful. On top of your rights, you are entitled to support coworkers who are looking to assert their legal protections.
If you feel like you have suffered from retaliation at work, it’s important to hold your employer to account. Seeking legal guidance will give you a better idea of what options are open to you.