Can I Get Fired for Filing a Workers’ Comp Claim?

The workers’ compensation system in New York covers almost all employees in the state and provides benefits to those who get injured at work or suffer from work-related illnesses. Despite the availability of cash benefits and payment for medical treatment, many eligible workers leave money on the table by declining to file their workers’ comp claims.

One of the reasons injured workers sometimes shy away from filing workers’ comp claims is that they worry their employer will fire them for doing so, or take some other adverse action. In fact, retaliating against an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim is against the law in New York and may have significant consequences for the employer.

Below is an overview of Workers' Comp Retaliation Law:

If you were injured at work or have developed an occupational disease, but fear retaliation if you file a claim, you need an experienced attorney to protect your interests. Our workers’ comp attorneys have been fighting for the rights of injured workers for over 20 years- please contact our office today for a consultation.

Employers that retaliate against employees who file for workers’ comp may be subjected to administrative fines by the Workers’ Compensation Board. An aggrieved employee may also sue for reinstatement at their job and/or money damages.

Most workers who refuse to file for workers’ comp out of fear of retribution probably worry they will be fired. There are other adverse actions an employer can take, however, that are considered retaliation, and are therefore illegal. In addition to termination, other retaliatory actions include: Demotion or pay decrease: An employer may not demote an employee, decrease their wages, or reduce their hours because the worker filed a workers’ comp claim. Discrimination: An employee who filed for workers’ comp may not be discriminated against or treated unfairly in the workplace because they filed a claim. Harassment: An employer is prohibited from harassing or creating a hostile work environment for an employee who files for workers’ compensation. An important note to keep in mind: Some of the above actions may be permissible if there is a reason outside of your workers’ compensation claim. For example, an employee who files for workers’ comp may be fired for misconduct or poor performance. Similarly, a worker’s hours may be reduced due to decreased demand for their services without implicating the anti-retaliation law. Remember, NYS is an at will employment state. You can be let go for reasons unrelated to your case, most commonly including an inability to return to work after six (6) months or more.

In New York, a worker cannot be penalized by their employer for filing for workers’ comp or attempting to claim workers’ comp benefits. This remains true even if the employee is unsuccessful in their pursuit of workers’ comp. Additionally, the anti-retaliation law also protects workers who testify or plan to testify before the Workers’ Compensation Board.

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