New York law forbids firing or discriminating against an employee who files for workers’ compensation. However, this does not mean an injured worker will be treated with fairness and compassion in the wake of an on-the-job accident.
In fact, some workers may face retaliation from employers or co-workers for reporting an injury and filing for workers’ compensation. You have legal options if you are placed in such circumstances.
What should I do if I am fired for filing for workers’ compensation?
If you’re fired for filing workers compensation in New York, contact the New York Workers’ Compensation Board and request to file a discrimination claim against your former employer. This complaint letter must be filed within two years of the date of the incident.
Can my boss discourage me from reporting an injury or filing for workers’ compensation?
Workers’ compensation claims can represent a financial loss for an employer. As such, some companies may take drastic measures to reduce the number of on-the-job injuries that are reported each year.
For example, a 2009 New York Times investigative piece reported on the widespread use of incentive programs used to dissuade workers from reporting injuries. The programs award cash bonuses and gift certificates to all company employees, provided there are no reported injuries in a given time period.
Another method is to require new employees to sign a no-injury agreement. This may, for instance, outline a 90-day probationary period in which a worker will be fired if they’re injured in a preventable accident. Such policies have been ruled unfair and discriminatory in the New York Supreme Court decision Rodriquez v. C&S Wholesale Grocers.
Can my boss hire someone to replace me after an injury?
New York’s workers’ compensation law doesn’t require your boss to keep your job open for you. As such, your employer has the option to hire someone to take your place if your injuries prevent you from performing your job duties. In these circumstances, your employer may argue this was a necessary decision based on the financial needs of the company.
Many employers will make an effort to take back injured workers once they’re cleared for work. Stay in contact with your employer and provide updates about your progress and date you will be ready to return to work.
Can a potential employer discriminate against me for my past workers’ compensation claim?
Your workers’ compensation claim is private and will be kept confidential from all uninvolved parties. A potential employer cannot legally ask you if you’ve filed for workers’ compensation in the past or deny you a job based on a claim.
What can I do to protect my right to file for workers’ compensation?
Notify your employer of the injury within 30 days of the incident, or risk losing your right to compensation altogether. You also have the option to work with an attorney to protect your New York workers’ compensation claim – particularly if you believe you’ll face retaliation for reporting an injury or filing a claim.