Employers Cannot Retaliate Against Employees Who File Workers’ Compensation Claims

An Employee Being Fired After Filing a Workers' Comp ClaimYou’ve been hurt on the job. You are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, and need the benefits while you are out of work. However, you are worried about retaliation by your employer.

It is Illegal for Massachusetts Employers to Retaliate Against Employees Who File Workers’ Comp Claims

A Massachusetts employer cannot retaliate against you simply because you filed a workers’ compensation claim. It is against the law to do so. However, it is not against the law to fire you or to take other retaliatory measures because the employer needs someone to fill your position or because your employer has a legal reason to take action against you.

If you lose your job because your employer needs to fill the position while you are out of work, then Massachusetts law requires your employer to provide you with a hiring preference over non-employee job applicants when you are able to return to work and when there is a position available for which you are qualified.

Types of Retaliation

Retaliation can take many different forms and all of the forms are illegal. Your employer may not take any of the following actions just because you filed a workers’ compensation claim after suffering a work-related injury. Specifically, your employer may not:

  • Fire you
  • Demote you
  • Give you a bad performance review
  • Reassign you in a negative way
  • Intimidate you into leaving your job or accepting a demotion or reassignment
  • Harass you in any way
  • Impose a disproportionate disciplinary action against you when compared with employees who did not file for workers’ compensation benefits
  • Take any other adverse action against you

While your employer cannot take these actions because you filed a workers’ compensation claim, these actions will not be considered retaliation if your employer has a legitimate reason for taking these actions that is unrelated to your workers’ compensation claim or if your employer needs to fill your position while you are out of work.

What to Do If You Face Retaliation After Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim

If you have been terminated, demoted, or otherwise retaliated against after filing a workers’ compensation claim, then it is important to talk to your worker’ comp lawyer as soon as possible. Your employer likely knows the law and is likely trying to build a case to explain why the actions that were took were because of factors other than your workers’ comp claim.

Your lawyer needs to know all of the facts about your employment, about the actions your employer has taken, and about any reasons your employer may have had to take negative action against you. You may be protected by state workers’ compensation laws and by other federal laws such as the:

  • Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which allows you to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave because of a health condition. If you qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, then you may receive workers’ compensation while you are out of work on FMLA leave.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which makes it illegal for an employer with 15 or more employees to discriminate against someone with a disability. If reasonable accommodations would allow you to get back to work, then your employer must provide you with those accommodations.

Massachusetts law allows employees who believe they have been the victims of retaliation to file lawsuits in Superior Court. If the employee is successful in court, then the employer may be responsible for paying lost wages, attorney’s fees, and for finding the employee suitable employment.

You have the right to all of the protections provided by Massachusetts and federal law, and you have the right not to be the victim of your employer’s retaliation for exercising your right to file a workers’ compensation claim.

To learn more about protecting your rights and workers’ compensation benefits, please contact our workers’ compensation lawyers today for a free consultation. We can be reached via this website or by phone at your convenience.

 

John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer