Workers who sustain an injury on the job while performing work-related duties are allowed to file a workers’ compensation claim to help pay for medical expenses and lost wages. Sometimes, though, an employer may retaliate wrongfully against an employee for exercising the right to file a workers’ compensation claim and recover benefits. When this happens, the employer is in violation of the law, and the employee has the right to take action, including the right to seek legal counsel.
California Labor Code and Retaliation for Workers’ Compensation Claims
Section 132a of California Labor Code explicitly states: “There should not be discrimination against workers who are injured in the course and scope of their employment.” The law continues to explain that any employer who retaliates against an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim has committed a misdemeanor. What’s more, if the employee reports the retaliation to a law enforcement or government agency, section 1102.5 of California Labor Code prohibits the employer for taking action against the employee for doing so.
Examples of Retaliation for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Retaliation often comes in the form of firing an employee, but is not limited to that alone. Other forms of retaliation may include:
- transferring the employee to another department,
- threatening the employee,
- demoting the employee,
- withholding an employee promotion,
- reducing the employee’s pay or denying a wage increase,
- refusing to rehire the employee,
- imposing an unwarranted disciplinary action,
- putting the employee on probation,
- giving the employee an undeserved performance review,
- writing a poor employee reference for the employee, or
- any other negative course of action taken by the employer against the employee as a direct result of the employee’s filing of a workers’ compensation claim for benefits.
Legal Options for an Employee Facing Retaliation
An individual who faces employer retaliation in the state of California has legal options. The first thing that an employee should do is take thorough notes about the retaliation, including relevant dates. It would be in the employee’s best interest to also consult an attorney early in the case to ensure the proper steps are taken to protect his or her rights.
The next step requires the employee or his or her attorney to submit a Retaliation Complaint form to the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.
Following the filing of the retaliation complaint, an investigation into the retaliation will be conducted. After thorough evidence has been collected, a report will be given to the labor commissioner, who will make a determination about the claim. If more evidence is required in order for a determination to be made, a hearing will be scheduled. This is where an attorney will be your best ally.
What are employees entitled to when employers retaliate against them?
When an employee is retaliated against for filing a workers’ compensation claim, the employee’s workers’ compensation amount shall increase by 50 percent, but in an amount that is no more than $10,000. An employee who has been fired or has otherwise lost wages due to retaliation shall be reinstated and reimbursed the total amount of wages lost.
An Employer Retaliation Attorney in California Can Represent You
If facing employer retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim, you have the right to seek legal representation. Because all retaliation complaints must be filed within six months’ time, it’s advised that you contact the attorneys at Hiden, Rott & Oertle, LLP as soon as possible.
Our attorneys can help you understand labor laws, file your complaint and recover compensation. Filing a claim against your employer can be scary and intimidating, but at Hiden, Rott & Oertle, LLP, we’ll provide you with the representation and confidence you need.