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Workers’ Compensation Retaliation in California

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Posted By DAM Firm | November 2 2023 | Workers' Compensation

Individuals should be able to file a workers’ compensation claim to receive benefits if they sustain an on-the-job injury or illness. However, there are times when employers retaliate against a worker for filing a claim.

Workers’ compensation retaliation in California is illegal but often difficult to detect and even harder to prove. Here, we want to discuss what workers’ comp retaliation looks like, possible reasons why it occurs, and what you can do if this happens to you.

Workers’ Comp Retaliation in California

What Does Workers’ Compensation Retaliation Look Like?

Retaliation in the workplace occurs when an employer takes adverse actions against an employee because they have exercised their legal rights in some way. Any employee in California who sustains A workplace injury has a right to receive workers’ compensation benefits (there are a few exceptions to this, and we encourage you to speak to your attorney about whether these exceptions apply to your situation).

The workers’ compensation system in California is considered a “no-fault” insurance system, meaning individuals can recover compensation regardless of who caused the injury. However, employers may take various types of adverse actions against an employee in order to convince them not to file the claim or because they have already filed the claim.

Some types of behaviors that would constitute retaliation include:

  • Verbal abuse
  • Creating a hostile work environment
  • Termination of employment
  • Denial of earned promotion or raises
  • Threats of physical harm 

This type of employer behavior is illegal, and the employer could open themselves up to criminal and civil penalties for retaliation.

Why Does This Retaliation Occur

An employer may retaliate against an employee for filing a work injury claim due to a variety of reasons. Often, the reasons behind this type of retaliation are financial. Nearly every employer in California is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, and they have to pay premiums on this insurance policy. Filing a work injury claim could raise an employer’s premiums, and the employer may retaliate against the employee because of this.

Even worse would be retaliation against an employee for filing a claim because the employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance to begin with. This is a serious violation of the law, and an employer could face major criminal penalties, including jail time and fines.

What Can You Do?

If you believe you have been retaliated against for filing a workers’ compensation claim, we encourage you to raise your concerns with your attorney. A skilled work injury lawyer in San Bernardino will help ensure that you are treated fairly throughout this process. Your lawyer’s main goal is to help you recover the compensation you need for your medical bills and lost wages after a workplace injury. Individuals who work with an attorney after sustaining a workplace injury are essentially putting their employer and insurance carrier on notice that they take the matter seriously, and, in turn, the employer may be less likely to carry out any retaliatory actions. 

If an employer is found guilty of retaliating against an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim, then the worker may be able to receive various types of compensation, including lost wages, emotional distress damages, attorneys’ fees, punitive damages, and various other types of relief as determined by the court. Individuals may be able to receive reinstatement to their position if they lose their job due to the retaliation.

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