Your employer cannot fire you for seeking workers’ comp benefits

On Behalf of | Apr 19, 2024 | Workers' Compensation |

Dealing with a work-related injury or illness is stressful. It can affect not only your physical health but also your financial well-being. In today’s economy, taking time off work isn’t always an option. Fortunately, resources like workers’ compensation benefits are available to help during these difficult times.

Workers’ compensation can provide income, cover medical expenses and offer disability benefits, among other forms of assistance. To initiate this claim, inform your employer about your injury or illness. This crucial first step sets you on the path to recovery and returning to work.

However, this step might be challenging. While there can be valid reasons for an employer to question a claim, they can’t punish you for asserting your right to benefits. If they do, they’re breaking the law.

Different forms of retaliation

Retaliation is when an employer punishes an employee for claiming their right to workers’ compensation benefits. This punishment can take several forms, including:

  • Firing or threatening to fire the employee.
  • Intimidating the employee.
  • Providing misleading information about the employee’s rights.
  • Making it harder for the employee to get medical treatment.

For instance, imagine you break your arm at work and file a workers’ compensation claim. If your employer responds by firing you, threatening to fire you or making it intentionally harder for you to claim your benefits, that’s retaliation. In many states, including Minnesota, this is illegal.

Legal actions you can take

Facing retaliation can be disheartening, especially when trying to recover and return to work. If you find yourself in this situation, remember you have legal options. You can file a lawsuit against your employer for damages. This lawsuit could lead to compensation for any decrease in your workers’ compensation benefits caused by your employer’s actions, your legal costs, and reasonable attorney fees. In some cases, the court may even award something called punitive damages to punish the employer and prevent similar actions in the future.

It’s important to remember that any monetary award from this lawsuit is separate from your workers’ compensation benefits. The amount you receive from the lawsuit will not reduce your benefits.

You have the right to receive benefits after a work injury or illness. Anyone who interferes with this is acting unlawfully. If you need help with proceeding, consider reaching out to a legal professional. They can provide clarity on your options and guide you through the process.

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