Workers Compensation Retaliation
Protecting injured workers in Orlando and West Palm Beach
Florida statutes dictate that when injured on the job, a worker's first—and often only—remedy is to seek workers compensation benefits from his or her employer and its workers compensation insurance company. Consequently, many injured workers are afraid of filing a workers compensation claim or consulting an attorney for fear of losing their jobs.
What they may not be aware of is that, since 1979, Florida law has prohibited employers from retaliating against injured employees for claiming compensation benefits. The law prohibits all kinds of retaliatory treatment:
Denial of any terms, conditions, or privileges of employment enjoyed by other workers is also forbidden.
Why employers retaliate
There are many reasons why unethical employers may retaliate against an injured worker:
- Fear that a workers comp claim will trigger a rise in the employer’s insurance premiums
- Fear that the worker's injury will hurt business efficiency
- Perception that an injured worker is "damaged goods"
- Belief that the injured worker is a fraud
- Expectation that an injured worker will be prone to further injuries
- Perception that the injured worker is not a team player
- Fear that an injured worker will cause morale problems
- Worry other workers will file workers compensation claims
Often, an employer will cite multiple reasons for firing or mistreating the worker. This does not automatically invalidate a workers compensation retaliation claim.
Proving a retaliation claim
Workers comp retaliation claims can be proved by direct evidence, circumstantial evidence, or a combination of both. Some forms of this evidence include or may include—
- Statements made by the employer or its agent, including a manager telling a worker he or she is being fired for hiring a lawyer or a supervisor ridiculing an employee for claiming a work injury
- Timing of the discharge or mistreatment in relation to the filing of a compensation claim
- History of treatment of other employees who filed workers compensation claims
- Sudden change in the employer's attitude when a workers comp claim is filed
- Disciplinary actions taken by an employer after the claim is filed
- Evidence that the employer's stated reason for a discharge or mistreatment is bogus
An employer who retaliates against an injured worker for filing a claim or seeking an attorney can be sued in civil court for money damages for lost past and future wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress damages, and punitive damages. If you are being mistreated after filing a workers compensation claim, it is important to contact an attorney knowledgeable in this area of law before you are discharged. The attorney may be able to stop the harassment or mistreatment and prevent a discharge.
Dedicated to defending Florida workers' rights
When you are experiencing workplace retaliation for having filed a workerss compensation claim in West Palm Beach, Orlando, Martin, and throughout South Florida, call the dedicated lawyers of Louis P. Pfeffer, P.A. at 561-745-8011 or contact us online.