Workers’ Compensation Retaliation
Workers’ compensation retaliation is not uncommon. We often learn of employees who get hurt on the job, file for workers’ compensation, and subsequently fired in retaliation.
Section 440.205 of the Florida statues state “no employer shall discharge, threaten to discharge, intimidate, or coerce any employee by reason of such employee’s valid claim for compensation or attempt to claim compensation under the Florida Workers’ Compensation Law.”
If you’re hurt at work, in other words, 440.205 ensures that your medical bills are covered by the employer, you receive compensation for time away, you cannot be fired or harassed, and are safe from retaliation.Who’s Eligible for Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Florida?
Workers’ compensation benefits are available to any and all employees injured at work, with the exception of independent contractors, in the State of Florida. By consulting a Miami workers’ compensation retaliation lawyer, you can determine whether you are a victim who is eligible to file for a claim.
Florida has a no-fault workers’ compensation structure, meaning the injured worker does not need to prove their employer was at-fault for the injury. Instead, they only need to prove that the injury was sustained at work while performing the duties within your job description.Can an Employer Threaten to Fire an Employee if They Seek Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
No. Florida Law (440.205) prohibits employers or supervisors from making veiled or explicit threats about an employee’s job security, promotions, raises, or other work-related matters as retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim.How do I Prove I Was the Victim of Workers Compensation Retaliation?
By consulting a Miami workers’ compensation retaliation lawyer, you will learn that evidence is the most critical component of your claim and that the most important things to prove are:
- Workers Compensation Eligibility
- You need to prove you were injured on the job and eligible/entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits
- Pursued Protected Activity
- You need proof that you reported the workplace injury to the employer and your doctor. Make sure you explain to your doctor that the injury occurred at work and that you have proof of requesting workers' compensation benefits.
- You suffered some kind of retaliation i.e. termination, reduced hours, pay cut or demotion after filing a workers’ compensation claim.
- Your employer’s actions were motivated by retaliation to your workers’ compensation claim which many times can be proved by the length of time you suffered retaliation to your request for workers' compensation benefits.
Employees who are victims of retaliation may seek compensation to cover a wide range of losses, including:
- Back Pay
- Future Lost Wages
- Emotional Distress
Florida law also awards punitive damages in some cases, including certain workers’ compensation retaliation cases.What Are Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages punish the employer (defendant) and they are intended to serve as a deterrent to others who may behave similarly.What Are Some Examples of Workers Compensation Retaliation?
These are some of the cases that Miami employment law attorney Alberto Naranjo has personally handled to prove workers’ compensation retaliation. Names have been changed to protect client confidentiality, but the details of the story remain the same.
Protecting Yourself Against Workers’ Compensation Retaliation
Karen was working at a clothing store when she injured herself moving heavy boxes of inventory. Until then, Karen could not say a bad thing about her job. She loved the work and the flexibility she received over the years to take care of her young child with special needs. After the injury, though, Karen’s work schedule changed to longer hours and nights, making it virtually impossible to care for her child. Karen’s job duties were also expanded to include window display set-up, further aggravating her injury. After meeting with Miami workers compensation retaliation lawyer Alberto Naranjo, Karen realized the supervisor was retaliating against her. Alberto negotiated a generous separation package between Karen and the employer. He then referred Karen to a respected colleague specializing in workers’ compensation who was able to secure additional benefits to help Karen properly recover from the workplace injury.
Pam and Jim are a married couple who enjoyed working together at a local retail store until they were terminated without cause. A month earlier, Jim seriously injured himself at work and required medical attention. His doctors cleared him for light-duty work until fully recovered. Meanwhile, Jim’s wife and co-worker Pam contacted HR to help file for workers’ compensation. They were both terminated a month later.
The following tips help employees protect themselves against wrongful termination:
- Detailed Records
- Document all discriminatory, harassing, or retaliatory comments made and/or directed about you. Include a list of others present but keep the information private until consulting a Miami workers compensation retaliation attorney. Employment law experts suggest employees keep a personal diary (not on company-owned devices) for these record-keeping purposes.
- Personal Emails
- It may be difficult to recover emails from a former employer’s serves. Use a personal email account whenever you communicate with an employer about unpaid wages, medical leave, policy violations, illicit activity, and other matters not directly with your job duties.
- Observe the Workplace
- It’s possible an employer’s attitude towards an employee may shift after they file a workers’ compensation claim. Pay close attention to how the employer treats employees in similar roles.
- Contact an Employment Law Attorney
- Labor laws are complex and, admittedly, not that exciting outside of the profession. Before speaking with HR, speak with an employment law attorney.
Labor laws are indescribably nuanced whether you’re exempt or non-exempt. The bottom line, however, is that no employer has the right to retaliate against you for being injured on the job. But every case is different.
If you think you’re the victim of workers’ compensation retaliation, contact Miami’s AN Law Firm, P.A. for a risk-free consultation with an employment lawyer about your unpaid wage claim.