Florida Workers’ Compensation Retaliation
Assuming your Florida employer carries workers’ compensation coverage, you as an employee have the right to seek benefits under that insurance if you are injured on the job. However, some employers may engage in what is known as retaliatory behavior in response to your filing a workers’ compensation claim. It can be difficult to spot retaliatory behavior, but if you do, be aware that you have the right to seek damages.
Implicit and Explicit Mistreatment
Florida law is very explicit, forbidding any employer from “discharg[ing] … intimidat[ing], or coerc[ing]” any employee based on their making a successful or unsuccessful workers’ compensation claim. However, the practical effect of this law is that direct threats or intimidation is discouraged – but subtle pressure and negative employment action may still occur. It is still possible in many situations for an employer to find a pretextual reason to discipline or terminate an employee who has committed no crime.
While there are some workers’ compensation cases in which an employee’s injury did not in fact happen during the scope of their employment, there are far more in which an employee is bullied or even threatened out of pursuing their claim. Negative employment action is the most common means of threatening an employee – for example, a demotion or a pay cut – and it is easier to explain away than an outright termination. However, it is still actionable if the negative employment action happens only because of your workers’ compensation claim.
You Have The Right To Seek Compensation
One thing to keep in mind is that even if you make a workers’ compensation claim against a former employer, this does not grant any future employer the right to take negative action against you. Historically Florida law did not grant a cause of action against a former employer, but in Bruner v GC-GW (2004), that line of cases was overturned. The District Court held that forbidding claims against former employers would have a “chilling effect” on an employee’s right to seek compensation under the terms of their employment contracts.
In general, Florida law in recent years has recognized that a worker has the right to file a workers’ compensation claim if they have been injured while engaged in the scope of their employment. Most of the time, a worker waives the right to sue their employer for negligence in exchange for the promise of workers’ compensation benefits. For an employer to renege on this bargain is inequitable at best.
Call A Winter Park Workers’ Compensation Attorney
An injured employee, in most cases, relies upon workers’ compensation coverage to ensure that their medical bills will be covered. If their employer unjustly retaliates against them for using those benefits, the worker has every right to seek what is rightfully theirs. A Winter Park workers’ compensation attorney from the Hornsby Law Group can help an injured employee understand their options in what can be a complex legal process. Contact our office today for a free consultation.