If you get hurt on the job, you can apply for workers’ compensation to pay for your medical bills or to compensate you while you take time off work to recover from your injuries. The process sounds simple and straightforward. Unfortunately for many injured employees in Virginia and elsewhere, employers may complicate a workers’ comp claim. Workers’ compensation retaliation is one way this occurs.
As FindLaw explains, workers’ compensation insurance can be expensive for employers, especially if their premiums increase when an employee files a claim. Consequently, some employers may attempt to reduce the number of workers’ comp claims by discouraging injured employees from exercising their right to seek compensation or retaliating against them when they do so. This is known as workers’ compensation retaliation or discrimination. Some common tactics include the following:
- Falsely informing injured employees that they do not qualify for workers’ compensation
- Pressuring employees to use their own insurance before seeking workers’ compensation
- Threatening employees that they will be fired or demoted for filing a rightful workers’ compensation claim, or following through with said threats
- Punishing employees who sustain injuries on the job
The fact that workers’ compensation retaliation violates employees’ rights does not mean employers can’t take measures to reduce claims. However, these measures should not restrict an injured worker from seeking compensation. An employer, for example, may institute a reward system for employees who avoid injuries, ensure workers receive adequate training in safety procedures and provide them with appropriate protective equipment.
Employees should understand that not only are they entitled to seek compensation for a work-related injury, but their employers also must not impede a worker’s right to file a claim or take disciplinary action against a worker with a valid claim. Workers’ compensation law can be complex, and experienced counsel is often necessary to educate employers on their rights.