Unlawful Termination Due To Workers’ Compensation Claims
Sometimes, employers do not act lawfully. It is not uncommon for such unfair acts to come as a result of filing a workers’ compensation claim, either because the employer may think your claim is baseless, or because they wish to avoid paying, or for another reason entirely. If you find yourself in such a situation, it is important to be aware that you have rights.
Concerns For The Bottom Line
The major reason why an employer might seek to unlawfully retaliate against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim is because the more workers file, the more their insurance premiums increase. Especially in recent years, premiums have risen significantly under Florida’s workers’ compensation law, as decisions in the Courts of Appeals in favor of injured workers have caused a rise in premiums of approximately 15 percent. The tide, for many, has seemed to turn in favor of granting more rights to injured workers, which can make some employers – especially small businesses – uncomfortable.
An employer may also believe that your injury is being exaggerated, or hold you responsible for your own harm suffered. However, the proper remedy for such charges begins with human resources, not with summary termination. There are certain types of activity that the law refers to as ‘protected’ – actions like voting, being on a jury, or speaking one’s mind politically – that may not serve as grounds for termination under either Florida or federal law. Filing for workers’ compensation, or filing for leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is among these protected activities.
What To Do
If you are the victim of employer retaliation upon filing your workers’ compensation claim, the best thing to do is try and document every single incident that could be construed as retaliatory or malicious. While employers are able to discipline their employees for non-discriminatory (and non-retaliatory) reasons with relative impunity, they must be able to show that their reasons for taking adverse action are above board. If they cannot, it may greatly help to prove your allegations of retaliation are valid.
Florida’s relevant statute on the matter of retaliation for filing workers’ compensation is extremely explicit and to the point – three lines in its entirety, stating clearly that “no employer shall discharge, threaten to discharge, intimidate, or coerce” an employee for the reason that they filed or intend to file a valid workers’ compensation claim. While the specifics of “threatening,” “intimidating” or “coercing” an employee may be open to debate, discharge is generally held to have occurred or not occurred. If you have been fired and you are able to show that it is for a reason related to your filing a legitimate workers’ compensation complaint, you have a good prima facie case to bring against your employer.
Contact An Orlando Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Being let go from your job can be demoralizing, and it can feel even worse if you suspect it was for malicious or unlawful reasons. If you believe you are in this position, contacting an attorney may help to clarify your next steps. The Orlando workers’ compensation attorneys at the Hornsby Law Group are experienced in this area of law and are happy to try and assist you. Call the office today to set up an initial appointment.