If you're injured on the job, you're entitled to compensation for your medical expenses and lost wages under state workers’ compensation laws. While your employer is required by law in Kansas and Missouri to carry workers’ comp insurance and to pay on valid claims, he may not be happy to do so, as it will cost him money in the long run.
When claims are made against the insurance policy, an employer’s premiums go up. Because of this, it's not uncommon for an employer to discourage a worker from applying, or to retaliate against him after the fact. Workers are protected from these actions, but may need to take legal action to ensure these protections.
How Does an Employer Retaliate?
If you exercise your right to workers’ comp and afterward, find you're being treated unfairly at work or even fired, there may be a connection. Under workers’ comp law, not only does your employer have to carry insurance, but also, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, he has to accommodate your injury or disability when you return to work. If your employer is unwilling to help your transition back to work, he may be breaking the law.
Unfortunately, there are several ways a vengeful employer might take action against an employee who has made a workers’ comp claim, including the following:
- Giving an unjustified negative performance review. Being injured or ill cannot be reasons for a poor evaluation.
- Refusing to grant a promotion. You cannot be denied a promotion based solely on your workplace injury.
- Failing to make accommodations. If you're under a doctor’s restrictions when you return to work, your employer must make accommodations or offer you a similar job in another area that works with your limitations.
- Firing. You cannot be fired for making a workers’ comp claim or for being off work for an extended period due to a workplace injury. However, you're not guaranteed employment after a medical leave, and you can still be fired for other reasons.
The key to building a successful claim against an employer for retaliation is making a direct connection between the negative action and the injury or workers’ comp claim.
Proving Workers’ Comp Retaliation
Your employer will, of course, deny that he's acting in retaliation, so you'll have an uphill battle to make a case. In general, to prove your employer engaged in retaliation for a workers’ compensation claim, you must be able to show all of the following:
- You were an employee entitled to receive benefits under the workers’ compensation law.
- You filed a claim for compensation within required time limits and through the appropriate channels.
- You suffered an adverse employment action, such as termination or other change in the terms and conditions of your employment.
- The employer was directly motivated by your workers’ comp claim to impose the adverse action.
Claims of employer retaliation aren't easy to make, as there are valid reasons an employer may terminate your employment even while a workers’ comp case is ongoing. If you're not able to prove direct causation, it's unlikely you'll win a case against an employer for retaliation. A successful claim could result in getting your job—or a comparable job—back; being granted a promotion that was previously denied; or in punitive damages paid by the employer to send a message that they cannot discriminate against employees who are taking legal actions.
Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys Can Explain Your Rights
Workers’ compensation laws are established by each state, so they may vary widely—including between Missouri and Kansas. If you're unsure of your rights to workers’ comp, or you suspect you've been punished by an employer because you made a worker’s comp claim, contact our experienced workers’ comp attorneys. We advocate for workers in both Kansas and Missouri and will help you navigate the process and protect your rights. Call us today at (888) 346-2616 to schedule your free consultation.