Getting hurt on the job is a challenging situation for a host of reasons. One of the most pressing – especially for workers who operate in high-pressure industries – involves reporting one’s injuries to an employer. Why is this such a tough undertaking for many workers? They may understandably fear that their employer will retaliate against them for getting hurt.
When a worker submits a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, an employer may incur direct costs or indirect costs in the form of higher premiums. As a result, they may try to persuade a worker to refrain from exercising their rights to benefits. They may lie and say that the injured worker isn’t eligible for compensation in the first place. Or, they may take their frustration out on the worker by demoting them, terminating their employment or otherwise subjecting them to adverse consequences.
Is retaliation lawful?
Both Virginia law and federal law prohibit employers from retaliating against workers who exercise their legally-protected rights. This doesn’t mean that employers always honor their legal obligations but it does mean that workers who experience retaliation in the wake of filing a workers’ comp claim may have strong grounds upon which to pursue legal action.
As such, a worker’s fear of retaliation after sustaining employment-related harm may be well founded. However, it’s important to keep in mind that exercising one’s rights in spite of that fear is a legally-protected course of action. Workers who have questions about their rights and options under the law – whether their employer has retaliated against them or not – can seek legal guidance for clarity and support at any time.