One of the risks of being an employee is getting injured while in the line of work. Regardless if you are on a temporary or permanent, or you work either full-time or part-time, you have the right to claim for workers’ compensation benefits for any work-related injuries you sustained. However, if you have been discriminated against because you are filing such a claim or receiving benefits from it, then you must exercise your employee rights in order for your employer to be held accountable for its actions or inactions.
Employer discrimination and retaliation
If you are an employee and you are receiving workers’ compensation, you are classified as a member of a protective group under the federal and California employment and labor laws, although it is temporary. For you to be in such a group, you must be outside of the normal parameters that make up the entire workforce, such as race, gender, age, sexual orientation, nation of origin, and religion.
Thus, being within a certain protective group means that you cannot be subjected to any kind of adverse employment decision, such as demotion, deprivation of salary, or termination. In other words, your employer cannot discriminate against you for claiming or receiving workers’ compensation benefits because of your age, sex, gender, race, religion, nation of origin or any other characteristics of a protective group.
An employer may also unlawfully retaliate against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim. This does not necessarily involve you being within a protected group. However, there have been cases in which employers question the credibility of certain workers’ compensation claims.
Thus, if there are isolated incidents wherein several employees were found to have been faking or exaggerating their injuries, employers often failed to address other legit injury claims, if not all of them. Making such generalizations on certain incidents of system abuse would be unfair for those who have real and serious physical or mental injuries, and may result in some employers facing claims or lawsuits of discrimination or retaliation.
Another reason for your employer to unlawfully retaliate against you for filing a claim is due to the increase in workers’ compensation insurance premiums resulting from new claims. Employers that handle claims of workers believe that an increase in insurance premiums would mean additional expenses and burden for them. Some employers may also have to refuse claimants to not file for workers’ compensation, instead offering them additional pay for their healthcare expenses which may not be covered by their health insurance.
Seeking legal assistance
If your employer discriminated, harassed, or retaliated against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim or receiving its benefits, then you must seek legal assistance right away. In case you have been terminated after you returned to work after using up all your benefits under workers’ compensation, it is imperative that you hire an expert wrongful termination lawyer who can help you obtain the justice that you deserve.