California Law Protects You From Workplace Retaliation
If you worry about what could happen to your job after filing a California workers compensation claim, fear not. State law is clear about your rights after on-the-job injury. The law prohibits any workplace retaliation or discrimination against you. In fact, the Workers’ Compensation Act goes farther than specifying how employees gain compensation after being injured at work. It also provides some protections for you.
Despite these protections against retaliation in the workplace, many employers still discourage employees from exercising their rights under the Workers’ Compensation Act. But the Act does not exist to pin fault for the injury on the employer. Instead, it provides incentive for employers to keep their workplace safe while quickly compensating employees for injuries they suffer. This compensation makes a big difference in recovery of many workers who otherwise cannot afford the medical care they need or time missed from work to heal.
Unfortunately, some employers still try to retaliate against workers who file a workers’ compensation claim. In the Los Angeles area, Kesh Law represents injured employees each step of the way through a workers comp claim. We also help if you suffer retaliation in the workplace after your on-the-job injury.
How California Law Protects You from Retaliation in the Workplace
State law in California specifies the following:
“There should not be discrimination against workers who are injured in the course and scope of their employment.”
The language of this policy uses broad terms. But the courts are clear that this law stands by employees unfairly treated after workplace injury or filing of a workers’ compensation claim. In fact, the law prohibits your employer from terminating your employment or even threatening to do so when you do any of the following:
- File a workers’ compensation claim
- Apply to the California Division of Workers’ Compensation to decide a claim
- State intent to file a workers’ compensation claim or application for benefits
- Receive a disability rating from your doctor
- Settle a workers’ compensation claim with the employer
- Receive benefits from a workers’ compensation claim
If other employees testify on your behalf as part of your claim, the state protects those employees, too. The employer cannot fire those workers who testify. They cannot even threaten to fire them.
If your injury causes absence from work, your employer cannot retaliate against you. After on-the-job injury, it is also against the law to discriminate against you based on your disability. If you need rehabilitation services as part of your workers’ comp benefits, the company you work for cannot fire or penalize you. If you cannot fulfill the duties of your original role, your rehab services may even include job retraining.
Reasons Some Employers Discourage Workers’ Compensation Claim Filing
If you suffer injury on-the-job, your employer should not try to discourage you from filing a workers’ compensation claim. It is your right under the law to file a claim. It is also your right to seek an experienced lawyer’s help in navigating the workers’ compensation claim process. Knowing that state law provides these rights and protections, why do some employers still try to stop employees from filing workers’ compensation claims?
Many employers fear an increase in their insurance rates after an employee files a workers’ comp claim. It is true that on-the-job injuries and these filings can raise their rates. But the increased rates work to encourage companies to provide a safe working environment. Without higher rates after such incidents, employers would feel free to ignore problems that cause worker injuries.
Other employers may fear a “bandwagon effect” from a workers’ compensation filing. They think that one injured employee’s successful claim could encourage other workers to file their own claims. This is not a logical fear. Similarly, one person’s auto accident injury and resulting personal injury compensation does not generally encourage others to seek car crash injury for the benefit of a claim. Instead, the employer should take the filing as a clear sign that they need to fix workplace problems that can cause injuries.
Because of their fears, some California employers try to retaliate against employees who file workers’ compensation claims. But again, state law is clear. Workplace retaliation and discrimination against injured workers are prohibited. If your employer tries to do this to you, you have the right to seek a California workers’ compensation lawyer’s help to sue.
Examples of Workplace Retaliation after an Employee’s On-the-Job Injury
Being terminated from your job or merely threatened about termination are not the only protections provided for injured workers under California law. Unlawful retaliation by employers also includes actions detrimental to the worker after their on-the-job injury.
The lines are often unclear between what state law considers retaliation and what an employer can do after your injury at work. This is where an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can help. For example, your employer can require you to use your sick leave when missing work for a doctor’s visit after workplace injury, as long as other workers must follow the same policy when missing work for non-workplace illnesses or injuries. The differentiator that clarifies retaliation is often that the at-work injured employee experiences different treatment than other employees.
Termination from their job is the most common type of retaliation in the workplace after an employee suffers injury. But there are many other types of retaliation, such as:
- Transfer to another department or division
- Indirect or direct threats
- Reduced pay
- Legitimate wage increase denial
- Refusal to rehire the worker after recovery
- Unwarranted disciplinary actions
- Undeserved negative performance reviews
- Placement on probation
- Negative references
What You Can Do If Your Employer Retaliates Against You
The law prohibits retaliation in the workplace after on-the-job injury and also provides remedies for workers who experience this unfair treatment. With a workers’ compensation attorney’s help, these remedies may include:
- Getting your job back
- Lost wages reimbursement
- Work benefits reimbursement
- Financial penalties
- Other remedies provided under the Fair Employment and Housing Act of California
Financial penalties the court may require a retaliatory employer to pay the worker include a 50 percent increase of the workers’ compensation award, up to a maximum of $10,000.
Talk to an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Los Angeles
If you have suffered an injury at work or were unfairly terminated because of your injury, contact the workers’ compensation attorneys of Kesh Law in Los Angeles. We help injured employees file workers’ compensation claims and get the benefits they deserve. When workplace retaliation occurs, we stand up for injured workers. Contact Kesh Law on our website or call us at (818)639-3955.