California Employment Law: Retaliation for Filing a Workers Compensation Claim is Illegal
One of the more common types of unlawful retaliation at workplace is when the employer retaliates against an employee for filing a workers compensation claim. The most common reasons for this type of retaliations are two:
1. Retaliation Due to Employer’s Skepticism of Work Related or Industrial Injuries
Managers and HR analysts become progressively more suspicious of disability claims and workers compensation claims. Once a manager sees one or a few questionable claims where he believes that the employee is faking or exaggeration his injuries, he starts believing that all the others do, and that the employees who claim to be injured and who file workers comp claim or request reasonable accommodation are just lazy and are trying to take advantage of the system. This kind of generalizing based on a few isolated examples of system abuse is of course very dangerous and a sure way to liability for discrimination and retaliating against employees who have real and serious injuries or limitations, whether physical or mental.
2. Retaliation Due to the Increase in Workers Compensation Insurance Premiums Resulting from New Claims
This is more prevalent among smaller employers where every workers compensation claim and every respective increase in the insurance premiums creates a more significant burden on the company’s overall budget and profits. The employer may simply be angry that his employee creates additional expenses for his company instead of simply being “tough” and working through his injury. Some employers even go as far as asking their employees not to file a workers comp claim and instead offer to pay for any of their additional healthcare expenses, which might not be covered by their health insurance. These kinds of requests or any other actions by the employer that would discourage an employee form exercising his rights to taking advantage of the workers compensation system are one type of evidence of discrimination and retaliation that the same employee can use later in a retaliation or wrongful termination claim against the same employer.
Regardless of the reasons, retaliation for filing a workers compensation claim is illegal and grounds for a wrongful termination claim.