When a Minnesota worker is injured on the job and needs workers’ compensation benefits to cover for wage loss and medical care, the last thing they want to think about is if their employer will hold the claim against them in some way. Unfortunately, this does happen and workers may face various sanctions, explicitly stated or not.
It is essential for injured workers to focus on getting the care they need without fear that the simple act of exercising their rights to workers’ compensation will somehow lead to negative consequences. Recognizing workers’ compensation retaliation is key and if it is happening, the worker should be fully aware of their legal rights.
What does the law say about workers’ compensation retaliation?
According to state law, the employer will commit workers’ compensation retaliation if they issue threats against the employee attempting to impact the workers’ compensation claim. If, for example, the employer implies or outright says the worker’s job will be in jeopardy if they file, this is a form of retaliation. In fact, any form of obstruction like telling the employee they may be demoted is retaliatory.
The worker can file a civil claim because of this. That can include being compensated for a reduction in the amount they received if they did get workers’ compensation benefits. They can also get reimbursed for legal fees and receive punitive damages. The punitive award cannot go beyond triple the amount of the workers’ compensation benefits they would have been entitled to.
If an employer does not offer an employee continued employment based on their physical limitations, this too can leave them liable under this law. This will be one year’s wages. It begins on the date when the refusal occurred and will be at the same wage they were paid prior to the injury. This part of the law is not applicable if the workplace has 15 or fewer employees who work full-time.
Workers should not fear retaliation for seeking workers’ compensation
Employers have various ways of showing their displeasure at workers who apply for workers’ compensation benefits. It may be due to the financial ramifications employers believe they will face; it could be because of the worker not being on the job or needing specific accommodations if they try to return; or it might happen for other reasons.
If an employee is being subjected to this type of employment law violation, there are options to hold the employer accountable. Consulting with professionals who are experienced in all levels of employment cases can give guidance and assistance with putting a stop to the behavior and potentially being financially compensated for what occurred.