When it comes to workplace injuries, for many employees their first thought is not obtaining proper medical care. Job security is a huge concern these days, especially with the economy not completely back to top form, and so many people worry that filing a workers compensation injury could endanger their job. If you’re wondering, “Can I be fired for reporting a workers compensation injury?“, then you’re at the right place. In this article we’ll go over all the implications, legal and otherwise, of reporting a workers compensation injury in Minnesota.
The easiest answer to this question is the legal one. Thanks to Minnesota Statute 176.82, it is illegal for employers to fire or even threaten to fire an employee for seeking workers compensation benefits. There are strict penalties in place to ensure employers adhere to this law, such as payment for lost wages, attorney fees, and punitive damages. In addition, if an employer were to discharge an employee in retaliation for a workers compensation claim, this would open them up to suits for wrongful termination. In essence, the legality of firing someone for reporting a workers’ compensation injury is very clear – it is illegal!
However, as we all know, life isn’t always that simple. While laws like the one mentioned above strive to protect the worker from retaliatory discharge, there are some other factors to consider.
What to Expect
- Recrimination. In an effort to invalidate an employees workers compensation claim, employers might begin to label the employee as “disgruntled” or as a “troublemaker”. This could be to intimidate you to drop your claim, or if you eventually bring up a wrongful termination suit, to allow the employer to claim you were simply an underperforming employee that was fired for low performance.
- Intimidation. Despite the law plainly denouncing threats or intimidation, your employer still might attempt to scare you into dropping your claim. In the section below we’ll talk about how to prepare for this.
How to Prepare
- Promptly Submit Reports. Many employers have strict protocols or deadlines for submitting workers’ compensation claims or other grievances, and you don’t want to jeopardize your claim by missing any of those deadlines! Timely and comprehensive paperwork will also be very helpful in the case that you have to take legal action to uphold your claim or in the case of retaliatory action from your employer.
- Collect Evidence. In addition to filling the initial injury report with your employer, make sure to keep track of any additional relevant paperwork. This could be a manual for the machinery you were trained to use, guides outlining your work duties, communications with your superiors, and more.
- Gather Witnesses. It is always helpful to have a second voice backing up your claim, in the event that your employer challenges your claim. Additionally, keep a record of any threats or intimidation tactics from your employer, along with the names of any people who might have observed those threats. Additionally, note the time and place where those threats took place.
In conclusion, the only honest answer to the question “Can I be fired for reporting a workers’ compensation injury?” is “No! But…”. While the law clearly protects you from that exact dreaded outcome, the real world is always a little messier and has a few more potential obstacles to be aware of.
A great way to face those potential obstacles with confidence and expertise is to seek the help of an experienced counsel. No matter what the circumstances, reporting a workers’ compensation injury can be a complex and stressful task, and it is always recommended to seek legal counsel from the very start. We at the Law Office of Joshua Borken are well-versed in handling workers compensation claims, so if we can assist you in any way please don’t hesitate to contact us!