If you have been injured in a work-related accident or if you’re suffering from an occupational disease, you have every right to consider filing a workers’ compensation claim. Workers’ compensation is technically a form of insurance; it provides injured or ill employees with medical care and cash benefits when they become injured or sick as a direct result of their job.
Employers pay for workers’ compensation insurance – it does not come out of the employees’ paychecks. Workers’ compensation is not “optional” for the majority of employers. In New York, virtually all employers are required by law to purchase it.
These employers are required to have workers’ compensation:
- For-profit businesses.
- Companies that employ part-time employees, full-time employees, borrowed employees, and leased employees.
- Companies that employ family members.
- For-profit businesses that allow volunteers to work for them.
- Counties and municipalities that hire employees for hazardous jobs.
- Public schools that employ teachers, except those who are employed by New York City.
- The state and its employees.
- People who hire domestic workers (e.g. housekeepers and nannies) to work 40 or more hours each week.
- Non-profits that hire employees and compensate them.
“What if I file a workers’ compensation claim, and my employer gives me a hard time and lashes out at me? What if they retaliate?” Unfortunately, this does happen on occasion and there’s a word for it: “discrimination.” Under New York law, employers are banned from firing or discriminating against employees for filing a workers’ compensation claim or attempting to. Those employees who testify at workers’ compensation proceedings are also protected.
A violation of the law is punishable by a penalty up to $500. If a worker believes that he or she has been discriminated against, they have two years to file a complaint about the discrimination. If the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board finds that the employee was discriminated against, the Board will order the employer to restore the employee to their previous position. The employer will also have to pay the employee for any loss of compensation that arose was the result of the discrimination.