If you have been injured at work, odds are that you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. At Neaton & Puklich, P.L.L.P., we have unfortunately witnessed what can happen when an employer tries to keep a worker from applying for those benefits. Such actions are not only unprofessional, but they are also illegal.
According to the Minnesota Department of Labor & Industry, all employers must either carry workers’ compensation insurance or be self-insured. Because this is a cost to the business, some employers may try to minimize costs by discouraging you from filing a claim. In other cases, business owners or management may even retaliate against employees who sought benefits. Retaliation can take a number of forms, including the following:
- Fostering a hostile work environment
- Punishing the worker by citing nonexistent or unjustified performance issues
- Reducing the benefits the employee can receive
- Cutting hours, wages or even wrongfully terminating the employee
Many states, including Minnesota, have laws on the books that prevent employers from retaliating against an injured worker who needed coverage. Under the Minnesota statute, anyone found to have retaliated by terminating an employee may be sued in court for damages. Further, an employer who, without sufficient reason, refuses to further employ the injured despite having jobs available to suit the person’s physical condition may be held responsible for paying one year’s wages.
In order to substantiate a retaliation claim, WorkplaceFairness.org advises that you be able to prove you were entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits and took some type of protected activity, such as filing a claim. Further, you will need to demonstrate that you encountered an adverse action, such as termination or discrimination, and that your protected activity motivated the wrongdoing.
For more information on this topic, please visit our page on protection from retaliation.