Employers Face Liability for Retaliation Against Employees Who File Workers’ Compensation Claims
PUBLISHED BY: LFN Primary
This is because of the recent verdicts awarding damages to employees whose former employers retaliated against them when they filed workers’ compensation claims. For instance, in February of this year, a court in Indiana rendered a judgment in excess of $400,000 in a workers’ compensation retaliation lawsuit. In addition, a jury in Florida awarded over $600,000 for another such claim. And the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit lowered a $4.2 million award to $2 million.
It is illegal to terminate or discriminate against an employee for attempting to secure workers’ compensation benefits. While federal law does not forbid retaliation, the majority of states have laws that disallow such behavior. For example, in New Jersey, there is a law that regulates the illegal discharge of, or discrimination against, an employee because that employee sought workers’ compensation benefits.
Prominent South Jersey personal injury attorneys Petrillo & Goldberg put it like this: “Employees who are injured at work should feel comfortable filing a workers’ compensation claim without fear of retaliation from their employer.”
In order to obtain protection in most states, an employee is required to act honestly in trying to secure workers’ compensation benefits. In addition, the employee does not have to make a formal claim for such benefits prior to filing a claim for retaliation. An employee can create a workers’ compensation claim by informing the employer of an injury and asking about the process of paying for medical expenses.
Over the past ten years, juries have been awarding significant punitive damages in workers’ compensation claims. This is due to a number of factors, including public awareness, public perception, timing and fraud. Juries have a tendency to think that employers engage in retaliation. It is also often the case that a claim is denied just prior to an employee’s termination. Furthermore, due to the prevalence of insurance fraud, workers argue that employers think that all claims are fraudulent.
In a retaliation claim, the amount of time that elapses between the injury and termination is pivotal. If an employee is discharged just days or weeks after filing a claim, a jury may infer that the two events were related. Since previous conduct is also important, the employee will try to show that there were little or no disciplinary actions or problems of any kind before the injury.
It is also worth noting that while the workers’ compensation statute does not mandate that an employer provide employees with a safe work environment, an employer is liable when one of its employees assaults another employee within the scope of employment. Additionally, under the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA), it is illegal for an employer to engage in retaliation against an employee who reports a crime that took place at work.Learn more at http://www.petrilloandgoldberg.com/ Petrillo & Goldberg Law 6951 North Park Drive Pennsauken, NJ 08109 1333 Race Street Philadelphia, PA 19107 70 South Broad Street Woodbury, NJ 08096 Phone: 856-486-4343 Fax: 856:486-7979