The rules that prohibit retaliation against workers are actually a hodgepodge of different state and federal laws.
Basically, these laws each identify an important right that lawmakers want Minnesota workers to be able to exercise despite how their employers may feel about it.
These important rights include, for example, filing a discrimination claim or participating in certain federal or state investigations. Employees also are free to report workplace safety violations.
Another important right employees is have is to file truthful claims for workers’ compensation benefits after the employee has been hurt or sickened at work.
These claims often hurt an employer’s bottom line, sometimes significantly. An employer may be tempted to fire or discipline a worker after she files for benefits as way of discouraging the worker or other employees.
This practice is prohibited under Minnesota law. If a worker in the greater Minneapolis area can prove the violation, he may sue for compensation. As part of that claim, he may ask for reasonable attorney fees and also three times the amount of losses as punitive damages.
Proving workers’ compensation retaliation can be tricky
Any worker who loses her job, even as part of an overall layoff or work force reduction, or faces other discipline after filing a workers’ compensation claim should be concerned about retaliation.
Proving a retaliation claim can be tricky. Minnesota employers will rarely come out and admit that they broke the law. Often, they will instead disguise retaliation by giving some other reason, such as poor performance.
In some cases, they may even accuse the employee of violating a workplace safety rule. In theory, employers are allowed to do this, but they cannot do so as a roundabout way of punishing a worker for seeking benefits.
Someone who suspects he has been retaliated against for seeking workers’ compensation payments should evaluate his legal options carefully.