If you’ve been injured at work, you can receive compensation for your lost time and medical expenses. Pennsylvania laws on workers’ compensation are pretty similar to the laws in other states. However, there are different state deadlines, compensation amounts, and other laws. If you don’t report your injury, then you may be fired if your performance suffers. If you do report the injury and file a workers’ compensation claim, then you cannot be fired for this, legally. You also cannot be legally fired for supporting the claim of a co-worker. Your employer may think up another reason to fire you, but if you suspect that the real reason was related to a workers’ compensation claim, then you may have case to sue your employer for illegal workers’ compensation retaliation.
In the case of Shick v. Shiry, 716 A.2d (Pa. 1998), the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania held that workers’ compensation claimants can file a cause of action against an employer who retaliates against a workers’ compensation claim by firing the claimant. It is important to note that the timing of employment termination in relation to the timing of filing a workers’ compensation claim makes a difference. You need to establish a causal correlation between the claim and being fired.
How is Retaliation Defined?
In Pennsylvania, the law is that any worker can be fired for any reason (that is not illegal) or for no reason at all. However, if you can demonstrate that you were illegally fired in retaliation for a workers’ compensation claim, then you may have a case against your employer.
There are also other acts of retaliation that have occurred between employers and employees who file workers’ comp claims. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the following list of acts of retaliation are known to occur:
- Refusal to Hire
- Denied Promotion
- Threats to Employee
- Unjustified Negative Evaluations
- Unjustified Negative Job References
- Increased Surveillance
Employers are prohibited from these acts of retaliation against workers’ compensation claimants by federal law (Wall Street Journal). Companies should also avoid offering incentives for meeting safety goals if it places workers in a position where they may fear discipline for reporting an injury.
When to Contact an Attorney
Many employees are afraid of employer retaliation for reporting injuries and filing claims. Over the past
ten years, the federal government has found that injury reports have gone down by 31%. Most companies claim that increased safety measures and education are responsible, but the employees and attorneys of employees argue that the real reason is that fear of retaliation.
If you’ve been injured at work, you can end up with thousands of dollars in lost wages and medical expenses. The last thing you need to fear the retaliation of your employer if you file a claim. If you are worried about this or if you think that employer retaliation for workers’ compensation has already occurred, then you should contact a Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible.