When an employee is injured on the job in Pennsylvania, the employee will likely have many questions about what to do. The typical concerns are who to tell about the accident, what doctor to see for treatment, and how they will financially survive the recovery process. Unfortunately, some employees have a very troubling question after filing a Workers’ Compensation claim: Can I be fired for this injury?
Pennsylvania law prohibits employers from firing or retaliating against an employee because they filed a Workers’ Compensation claim. Unfortunately, not all employers are the law-abiding organizations they might present themselves as. Retaliation following a workplace injury does occur, and a Workers’ Compensation attorney can help employees identify when it has happened and pursue a solution through the courts.
Being fired is the last thing an injured employee should have to deal with after requesting Workers’ Compensation. The Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation attorneys at Lerner, Steinberg & Associates are dedicated to fighting wrongful termination. If you have been fired after an injury at work, give us a call today at (215) 355-6400 for a free review of your legal options.
Is My Employer Retaliating After I Filed a Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Pennsylvania law forbids terminating an employee for filing a Workers’ Compensation claim, but what about other adverse actions against the employee? Retaliation against an employee for filing for Workers’ Compensation is also prohibited. Subtle retaliation can be difficult to identify and prove. Still, you should watch out for a few situations if you have recently been injured and filed a Workers’ Compensation claim.
Verbal or Written Threats
Any threats against the employee, their family, or their property caused by the Workers’ Compensation claim are considered illegal retaliation. Threats could be explicitly said or written, or more subtle comments which imply that something negative will happen if the Workers’ Compensation claim is pursued. These threats may happen repeatedly and rise to the level of harassment. Generally, if you are made to feel pressure to drop the insurance claim by your employer, the actions may be considered illegal retaliation.
Employers may also retaliate in less explicit ways. Your work hours could suddenly be reduced, or you could receive less favorable shifts immediately following a claim. Retaliation could also manifest as an unfair performance review or an unwarranted performance improvement plan. These instances are tricky to navigate since performance reviews can reflect legitimate performance concerns. However, suppose feedback on your performance is not supported by evidence and is more aligned with the timeframe of a Workers’ Compensation claim. In that case, you may want to consider that the employer is retaliating against you and seek legal counsel to evaluate your case and offer legal options.
Hostile Work Environment
Lastly, if an employer purposefully creates a hostile work environment for an employee following a claim filing, that could constitute retaliation. Typically, hostile work environments are discussed in the context of sexual harassment, but the term can apply more broadly. If it becomes increasingly difficult to do your job due to the words or actions of your boss or coworkers, you may be experiencing a hostile work environment. If this behavior starts immediately after filing a Workers’ Compensation claim, the hostile environment may be a form of retribution. These situations are complex and difficult to prove, but our attorneys can listen to your experience and determine if the facts support illegal retribution allegations.
Can My Employer Fire Me After An Accident That Was My Fault in Pennsylvania?
An employer may fire an employee if an injury on the job was due to the employee’s own negligent actions. Frequently this occurs when an employee causes an accident while under the influence of drugs or alcohol or acts negligently and in violation of the employer’s procedures or policies. In these cases, the termination is directly connected to the employee’s actions, which caused an injury, and not to the Workers’ Compensation claim itself.
Since there is a distinction between job termination in response to a Workers’ Compensation claim and termination based on the employee’s actions that caused the injury, each case must be carefully reviewed to determine any potential wrongdoing. Such an examination is highly fact-specific and can be greatly aided by our experienced Delaware County Workers’ Compensation attorneys.
What Should I Do If My Employer Fired Me After I Requested Workers’ Compensation in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania is an at-will employment state, which allows employers to fire employees at any time, with or without cause. However, this employment policy does not enable employers to fire people for illegal reasons. If you believe that your employer has fired you for filing a Workers’ Compensation claim, you can consider a wrongful termination lawsuit. Wrongful termination is a specific cause of action for illegally firing an employee, which includes firing for filing for Workers’ Compensation.
In such a case, an employee can request damages equal to the amount of Workers’ Compensation they would have received had they not been terminated. This includes medical bill reimbursement, lost wages, and other bills resulting from treating the workplace injury. In egregious situations, a judge may even award punitive damages to punish your employer for your illegal termination.
Many employers do not want to spend the time or money going to trial and are willing to settle the case for a lump sum amount, so you may not even have to step foot in a courtroom to receive compensation. If you were fired shortly after requesting Workers’ Compensation, you could first speak to our attorneys to determine if your facts fit the pattern for wrongful termination.
If You Were Fired After Filing for Workers’ Compensation, Call Us Today
The Bucks County Workers’ Compensation attorneys at Lerner, Steinberg & Associates can help determine if you were wrongfully fired or retaliated against for filing a Workers’ Compensation claim and can advise on your legal options. Call us at (215) 355-6400 to discuss your situation and receive a free case review.