Were you fired under suspicious circumstances? Maybe shortly after you filed a workers’ compensation claim? This happens far too often, and it is ILLEGAL.
As a worker, you have certain rights under state and federal law. You cannot be paid less than a minimum wage, forced to work hours over a set limit, or fired for retaliatory reasons. This last instance is where we come in. Employers occasionally terminate workers for seeking the compensation they deserve after they’ve been hurt on the job. This illegal activity is called ‘workers’ compensation retaliation,’ and it usually occurs as a way for companies to save money by not paying hurt workers.
Injuries heal on their own time, and your doctor knows best when recommending treatment or time off from work. When taking time off to recover from an injury sustained on the job, it is unreasonable to expect a worker to survive without any form of income, especially if the injury occurred through no fault of the worker. That is the core idea behind workers’ compensation; in return for being injured on the job, the company pays you while you are recovering.
For many companies, there are convenient ways around workers’ compensation. Some companies simply fire their hurt worker and hire someone new. As at-will employment, the company may release their workers at any time for any reason, and many companies take this as permission to get rid of hurt workers who are costing them money. In other cases, these companies use implicit or explicit threats of termination to force injured workers to return to work, against the advice of their doctor.
Convenient or not, following your doctor’s advice is NOT an adequate reason for early termination. The Workers’ Compensation Act grants hurt workers certain rights and remedies: companies cannot infringe on these without suffering legal consequences. Many hurt workers are not aware of this fact, nor of their rights and options for pursuing legal atonement afterward. And while it is illegal to fire a worker due to workers’ compensation retaliation, this is often difficult to prove in court. Employers may claim that there were other factors behind the firing, leading to further investigation and evidence-gathering. Experienced legal counsel can help argue your case in court if it comes to that.
However, many cases are settled out of court, a process that also benefits from professional legal advice. Settling out of court is a complex negotiation between trained legal advisors, and should not be undertaken alone. As an injured party, you want fair compensation for your injuries, and a seasoned workers’ rights attorney can help secure you that.
At Saks, Robinson & Rittenberg, Ltd. we’ve had great success at prosecuting workers’ compensation retaliation claims, due in part to our extensive experience before the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. We’re excellent negotiators out of court, and will gladly try cases when former employers fail to settle fairly. For example, in 2016, a jury awarded our client over $2.56 million after his employer refused to settle his workers’ compensation retaliatory discharge case.
Sometimes multiple claims are required for justice to be served. While most traditional labor and employment attorneys might only help you pursue a retaliation claim, and most workers compensation lawyers shy away from anything employment-law related, our area of experience spans multiple arenas. We have a strong record of pursuing retaliation claims against companies that fired their workers for filing compensation claims, as well as experience securing the workers’ compensation benefits you originally deserved. As a result, most of our clients who are injured at work never experience workplace discrimination – because the employers know we are ready, willing, and able to fight back!
Contact Saks, Robinson & Rittenberg, Ltd. today for a free consultation.