Can an Employer Retaliate Against You After You File a Workers’ Comp Claim?

Getting injured on your job can be one of the most challenging and devastating events in your career. Whether you sprained your ankle or sustained a more life-threatening injury, besides the physical damage of your workplace injury, you are likely in an uncomfortable position. This is because you have to inform your California employer about your need to file for workers’ comp benefits.

Unfortunately, many California employers make matters worse by resorting to intimidating or coercive tactics in order to discourage their workers from filing workers’ compensations claims. However, you should know that if your employer engages in coercive or intimidating tactics against you if you are filing a claim for workers’ comp benefits, their behavior may be considered illegal.

California’s workers’ compensation system allows employees to recover a sum of money in order to help with medical bills and various living expenses, such as utility bills, while they are away from their job. Unfortunately, some employers in California punish their workers for using this system. But doing so is retaliation, and is illegal.

What is Workers’ Compensation Retaliation?

Keep in mind that retaliation happens when your California employer punishes you for engaging in any legally protected activity. For example, legally protected activities include many things, such as reporting harassment or discrimination, requesting accommodation for a religious practice or disability, and filing a workers’ comp claim.

You should know that to protect injured employees, California worker’s compensation laws prevent employers from discriminating against or terminating a worker for filing a claim for a work-related injury. Did you know that workers’ compensation discrimination laws are present in Labor Code section 132a?

According to the law, any California employer who discharges, or threatens to discharge, or discriminates against any worker because the worker has filed or intends to file a claim for workers’ comp with the employer is guilty of a misdemeanor.

Note that because of the employer’s actions, you can receive:

  • Costs and expenses of up to $250

  • Reimbursement for any lost wages as well as work benefits caused by the actions of your employer

  • Increased compensation up to $10,000

Why Employers Retaliate

Similar to other kinds of insurance, an increase in total worker’s comp claims usually leads to a higher total cost of coverage for your employer. This is why employers faced with the unpleasant prospect of increasing insurance rates might be tempted to retaliate against workers filing for worker’s compensation benefits.

It is worth noting that this retaliation can take the form of employee termination, pay cuts, demotion, poor performance reviews, and unwarranted disciplinary actions.

Types of Workplace Retaliation

Keep in mind that an employer who has grown resentful of a worker who used workers’ compensation benefits might try various approaches in order to get rid of the worker.

It is worth noting that if the employee can be persuaded to resign or quit, it is often much easier to cut down workers’ compensation benefits. Therefore, some employers will take steps to make the employee’s job unpleasant. This is retaliation and illegal.

Some common techniques to achieve this include the following:

  • Demoting the employee

  • Not making reasonable accommodations to the employees’ medical limitations

  • Placing the employee in a menial, tedious, dull, or unpleasant job

  • Assigning the employee to overnight shifts

Proving Employer Retaliation in California

You will be happy to know that employees are legally protected against retaliation in California, provided that their worker’s comp claim was truthful as well as filed in good faith.

However, note that an employee needs more than just a bad feeling about an adverse action in order to prove retaliation. For example, documentation in the form of letters, emails, and voicemails offers the strongest evidence; however, verbal statements may also incriminate a California employer.

Did you know that body language, timing, inconsistent behaviors and mood changes, and falsified evidence may strengthen your retaliation case? Also, keep in mind that if an employer doesn’t have a firm and reasonable legal reason for taking action, you may pursue various retaliation actions.

To win your employer retaliation claim, you must prove that the retaliatory action, like demotion or termination, resulted from your workers’ compensation claim. In order to do so, you may have to show that:

  • You were entitled to receive workers’ comp benefits

  • You filed for your workers’ compensation benefits

  • You suffered or faced an adverse employment action

  • Your employer was motivated by your workers’ compensation claim in order to impose the adverse action.

Get Help from an Experienced and Capable Workers’ Compensation Attorney

Workers’ compensation claims in California can be difficult and complex to navigate, particularly if your California employer is fighting your claim or retaliating. If you think that your California employer has engaged in retaliation after you suffered an on-the-job injury and filed your claim, West Cost WC attorney is here to help.

If you want to discuss these issues, please contact our office for a free consultation. Hiring an experienced and competent workers’ compensation attorney is invaluable in making sure that you are fully compensated for your loss.  Getting help from a competent West Cost WC attorney can help you make sure that you receive all of the benefits you are entitled.