Can I Get Fired for Filing a Work Comp Claim?
If you’ve been hurt at work, you shouldn’t let the fear of losing your job stand in the way of getting the benefits you need. Employer retaliation for filing a work comp claim is illegal in Minnesota, and Fields Law Firm is on your side. Our Minnesota workers’ compensation attorneys will help ensure your legal rights to benefits are protected – before and after your claim is filed.
Many of our workers compensation clients ask the question, “Can I get fired?” The short answer is No.
There is a law in Minnesota that prevents employers from firing employees for seeking workers compensation benefits. The law also states that an employer cannot intentionally obstruct an employee from seeking workers’ compensation benefits. This law is commonly referred to as the workers compensation retaliation statute. This is a type of wrongful termination.
The monetary benefits (also called damages) that a person can receive as part of a claim under Minn. Stat. 176.82 are different from those that a person can receive for their workers compensation claim alone.
For instance, workers’ comp benefits are limited to medical benefits, wage loss benefits, and rehabilitation benefits. Under the retaliation statute, an employee can receive punitive damages and damages for pain and suffering. Injured workers’ cannot collect punitive or pain and suffering damages under the workers’ compensation system.
There is also a difference in the taxability of workers compensation benefits and damages received by an individual in a retaliation claim. While workers’ compensation benefits are not taxable, damages received in a retaliation claim are taxable.
What if my employer threatens to fire me for filing a workers compensation claim but doesn’t actually fire me?
The language in the statute explicitly states that an employer cannot “threaten” to discharge an employee for seeking benefits.
The Minnesota Supreme Court recently upheld a case where a supervisor warned an employee not to file a workers compensation claim because it could jeopardize his employment. Schmitz v. U.S. Steel, No. A12-709 (Minn. Aug. 27, 2014).
The employee was never actually fired, and no other adverse action was taken against him, but the court still awarded the employee damages.
What should I do if I was fired or harassed after getting hurt at work?
There are a few things you should consider when you suspect retaliation for seeking workers compensation benefits:
- What reason did your employer give for the termination?
- How close in time was the threat of termination to the work injury or the report of the work injury?
- Are there any written documents regarding the termination? If so, save them.
- Did any coworkers, supervisors, or other people in management roles make any comments whatsoever about your work injury? When and are there witnesses?
- Prior to being terminated, were there any discipline or reprimand issues?
- Is there an employment file that documents a history of good performance reviews or other positive information about you?
Wrongful termination claims are handled separate from an employee’s workers compensation claim. Not all workers compensation attorneys are able to help an injured worker pursue a claim under the retaliation statute. Do not give up on a claim under the retaliation statute just because a worker’s compensation attorney tells you they do not handle those types of cases.
If you were fired, threatened or harassed after being injured at work, call Fields Law Firm. We would be happy to review your case and explain what you can do to protect your rights.
Protecting You From Wrongful Termination
At Fields Law Firm, our Minnesota workers compensation attorneys offer a free consultation to explain your legal rights and help you determine the best way to proceed with your wrongful termination claim.
We are one of the largest and most respected work injury law firms in Minnesota, and we’re here to help you get your benefits. If you have questions about your rights to file a claim, we have answers.
Workers’ compensation law is supposed to protect you when you’re hurt on the job. If your employer violates your rights, Fields Law is here to stand up for you. You’re not alone – we understand the emotional stress work injuries can cause, and we want to help you get better and get back to work.