Historically, workplace accidents were a “very touchy” subject for workers. They’d work in dangerous environments with careless co-workers or hazardous equipment, either of which could result in serious injuries. Sometimes, even their employers would fail to properly train them, or they wouldn’t “spring” for the proper safety equipment. It’s no wonder why the workplace can be an “accident waiting to happen” as the old saying goes.
Before workers’ compensation laws were enacted, an injured worker would have little recourse. Often, they wouldn’t receive any compensation for their injuries and they would have to bear the full expense of their medical bills. It was a tragic state of affairs for American workers, especially in the agriculture, fishing, logging, and manufacturing sectors.
FEAR OF EMPLOYER RETALIATION
Fortunately, lawmakers grew wise to the discrepancy and realized that the existing laws protected wealthy employers and not America’s workforce. Once nationwide workers’ compensation laws were enacted, at last workers gained the workplace protections they needed and deserved. Even though these laws have been in place for many years, millions of injured workers fail to file workers’ compensation claims out of fear of employer retaliation. Meaning, they fear they’ll lose their jobs if they file a claim.
If you’re hesitant to file a workers’ compensation claim because you’re afraid you’ll lose your job, we want you to know that it’s against the law for your employer to fire you because you file a workers’ compensation claim.
According to the New York Workers’ Compensation Board, “An employer man not fire or otherwise discriminate against an employee or applicant who has claimed or attempted to claim workers’ compensation.” So, if your employer tries to fire you for filing a claim, he or she is subject to a maximum penalty of $500 under the law.
Suppose you are fired after filing a workers’ comp claim. If the Board finds that you were in fact “improperly discharged,” your employer will be ordered to restore your previous position and pay you for any loss of compensation that resulted from the discrimination.
To learn more about the law, click here to read the Board’s page on discrimination.
Contact Katz, Leidman, Freund & Herman to schedule a free consultation with a Long Island workers’ compensation lawyer!