If you have recently suffered a work-related injury in California, it is important to know your legal rights. While there are certain benefits you may be entitled to through your workers’ compensation claim, you should also be aware that it is illegal for your employer to terminate your employment because you got injured on the job.
If you were injured at work, the California workers’ compensation attorneys at Kneisler and Schondel are here to help you get the benefits you deserve. At Kneisler and Schondel, we handle many different types of work-related injury cases. If you were wrongfully terminated after suffering a work injury, it is crucial for you to understand your legal rights. Contact us today to schedule a consultation to discuss your workers’ compensation case.
Retaliatory Firing After Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim in California
Under California law, it is illegal to fire an employee in retaliation for filing a claim workers’ compensation claim. If this has occurred, it is a violation of the California Labor Code, and the terminated employee may be entitled to various forms of compensation, including increased compensation and back-pay. The terminated employee may also be able to get reinstated to their former position.
The wrongfully terminated injured worker must file a claim alleging that they were wrongfully terminated in violation of the California Labor Code. This will be a separate claim from the workers’ compensation claim, as these are two different issues and they must be resolved individually.
Discrimination in Any Form Due to the Filing of a Workers’ Compensation Claim is Prohibited Under California Law
In addition to wrongfully terminating injured workers for filing a workers’ compensation claim, employers can discriminate in other ways due to the filing of the claim. For example, another form of discrimination that is demoting the injured worker or denying them a raise or promotion simply because they were injured and filed a claim for benefits.
Keep in mind that this is separate from offering a temporary light duty position while the injured worker is recovering from their injury. Offering a light duty position is common when the injured worker has restrictions in their ability to do their normal job due to their injury. When the injured worker has completed medical treatment and is considered at maximum medical improvement (MMI), they should generally get their original job back.
Claims of discrimination against an injured worker for the filing of a workers’ compensation claim are filed at the California Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board. There is a short statute of limitations associated with filing these types of claims, so it is important to hire an experienced attorney who can ensure that all filing deadlines are met so that your claim can proceed.
What is Not Discrimination After a Workers’ Compensation Claim Has Been Filed
Under some circumstances, what may seem like discrimination to an injured worker may actually be perfectly legal. The test is that the employer’s actions must treat all employees equally. To prevail on a claim that the employer violated the California Labor Code and discriminated against them, the injured worker must prove that he or she was treated differently from the other employees. While you can be fired after filing a workers’ compensation claim, it must be for a reason other than the fact that you were injured at work and pursued benefits.
For example, if the injured worker’s job is no longer available due to economic reasons articulated by the employer, it may not be considered discrimination against the injured worker. Another example includes a situation where an employer does not allow an injured worker to come back to work until his treating doctor approves. This is not likely discriminatory conduct if the same rule is imposed on other workers who suffer non-work-related injuries.
If you have questions regarding whether you may have been discriminated against or wrongfully terminated due to pursuing a workers’ compensation claim, contact the attorneys at Kneisler and Schondel today. There are certain deadlines that must be met in order to preserve your claims, so it is essential to act right away.