These days, employers are able to pick from a seemingly endless supply of highly qualified job candidates. Sometimes those candidates may be more attractive than an employer's current employees. That fosters an atmosphere of trigger happy employers itching for an excuse to let employees go.
Couple that environment with the soaring cost of workers' compensation premiums and what happens? Employees who make workers' compensation claims flirt with the possibility of retaliation by their employer. It's the perfect excuse to get rid of a problem employee to make room for that candidate waiting in the wings for an offer to do the same job for less money. But there is one problem. Retaliation against employees who file workers' compensation claims isillegal under California law.
California Labor Code section 132aprotects employees who file workers' compensation claims. Under the statute, an employer may not discharge or discriminate against an industrially injured employee who: (a) applies or intends to apply for workers' compensation benefits; (b) receives a workers' compensation rating, award, or settlement; or (c) testifies or intends to testify in another employee's case. The purpose of the statute is to prevent discrimination against workers who are injured in the course of their employment.
An employee may have a legitimate discrimination claim against his/her employer if he/she files a workers' compensation action and as a result he/she is:
- Treated with hostility;
- Given a pay cut; OR
- Subjected to any other adverse employment actions.
In addition, both the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and common law wrongful termination remedies are available to an employee who suffered discrimination based on a work-related disability. Also, section 132a claims may be used to support claims for wrongful termination in violation of public policy.
If you or a loved one filed a workers' compensation claim and were fired or otherwise retaliated against by your employer, you have rights. Contact an attorney at Markson Pico LLP to discuss your rights.