Many employees worry that filing a workers’ comp claim will cause them future problems; they fear termination, employer retaliation, or even the inability to get hired at another company. Fortunately, there are legal protections available to injured workers. Although workers’ comp laws vary from state to state, most states prohibit the termination or demotion of an employee in retaliation for filing a workers’ comp claim. Massachusetts is no exception.
Some states specifically prohibit employers from refusing to hire someone due to a past workers’ comp claim. In Alaska, for example, employers “may not discriminate in hiring, promotion, or retention policies or practices against an employee who has in good faith filed a claim for or received benefits [for workers’ compensation].” Similar provisions exist in Louisiana, Oregon, and Vermont. Although MA and many other states don’t have such specific language with regard to the hiring process, other protections are available to protect workers from being refused employment based on prior workers’ comp claims.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits any type of discrimination as it relates to the employment process. This includes hiring. As such, if you believe you were refused employment based solely on having previously received workers’ comp benefits, you may have a legal claim against the employer. It is also illegal to discriminate against an employee or job applicant because of a past or present disability. That being said, the ADA only applies to businesses with at least 15 employees. A Boston workers’ comp attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured on the job.
What is Retaliation?
Retaliation can take many forms, from a hostile work environment to outright termination. Some of the most common types of retaliation following a workers’ comp claim include:
- Negative performance review
- Failure to promote a deserving employee
- Pay cut
- Workplace isolation or intimidation
- Negative transfer or reassignment
- Reduction in benefits or employment terms
- Disciplinary action without cause
- Negative employment references
- Increase or decrease in tasks
In the list above, negative employment references are the most likely concern among job applicants who have previously filed workers’ comp claims. Another concern is the question—have you ever filed a claim for workers’ compensation? Since the law prohibits employers from asking potential employees about past or present injuries or disabilities, this question is usually a no-no. However, in some cases employers may perform a background check to determine if the potential employee has ever filed a claim.
What if My Claim was Denied?
If you feel that you have been demoted or fired due to a workers’ comp claim, you may wish to bring a retaliation claim against your employer or potential employer. Even if your claim is ultimately denied or deemed frivolous, it is unlawful for an employer to discipline, fire, or demote an employee based on the filing of a workers’ comp claim, frivolous or not. A MA workers’ comp lawyer can help you recover damages if an employer has retaliated against you for filing a workers’ comp claim.
Altman & Altman, LLP—Boston’s Premier Workers’ Compensation Law Firm
If you have been injured in a work-related accident, the skilled legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. We have been protecting the rights of MA workers for more than 50 years. When an on-the-job injury or illness occurs, workers’ comp exists to protect both employer and employee. The employee agrees not to sue in exchange for benefits. These benefits typically come in the form of compensation for medical expenses, and a portion of lost wages. Unfortunately, employees are often afraid to file a claim, fearing employer retaliation or consequences surrounding future employment. If this sounds like you, don’t worry. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.