Will I be fired if I file a workers’ comp claim?
Workers Comp Lawyer, John McCabe
Many employees wonder if their employer can fire them if they are hurt on the job and then file a workers’ compensation claim. The short answer is “no.” An employer cannot fire an injured worker in retaliation for the employee filing a workers’ comp case. The North Carolina Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act (REDA) specifically forbids an employer for not only firing a worker for filing a case, but also for taking adverse employment action against him. Refusing to allow vacation, a demotion, reducing one’s pay, an unwarranted shift change or withholding benefits are all examples of adverse actions that REDA forbids.
The long answer, however, is that as with most legal claims, whether a legitimate REDA claim exists will be decided on a case-by-case basis. If an employee is fired after filing a workers compensation claim, the key is determining whether or not it was done in direct response the employee filing the claim. It’s a gray area and employers will try to put on all sorts of evidence to prove that there was no retaliation. And it’s difficult for the employee, or any layperson, to gather the evidence that establishes a direct correlation between the retaliation and the filing of the claim. Very seldom will there be a smoking gun – such as an internal memo or email showing that the employer was fired because the employee for filed the claim. In the vast majority of cases, the lawyer will have to build the case by relying on circumstantial evidence, such as how soon after the filing of the claim did the employer take adverse action against the employee. The testimony of co-workers can also be helpful, assuming, of course, that the co-workers are willing to get involved.
The bottom line is that it is illegal for an employer to fire you in retaliation for filing a workers’ comp claim and there are laws out there to protect you. But cases like these are rarely black and white. Having legal representation will not only ensure that you have a much more thorough understanding of your rights and the law, but that your case has a favorable outcome.
if you have questions about your injury claim.
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