According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), workplace injuries are underreported every year. For a variety of reasons, both employers and employees fail to notify anyone when an injury occurs on the job. One of the main reasons cited by OSHA is fear of retaliation. Employees worry that filing a workers’ compensation claim may affect them negatively at work, and they may not seek the care they need in an effort to protect their job and income. However, there are laws that protect employees in these situations, and it’s important that injured workers understand their rights so they can recover as quickly and as fully as possible. Failing to seek care and compensation for an injury can lead to more serious problems later, adversely affecting your health, employment, and lifestyle.
Types of Employer Retaliation After a Work Injury
It’s important for injured workers to first recognize employer retaliation, as it can actually take many different forms. Any time a worker is negatively affected on the job directly related to his injury claim, it may be construed as retaliation. Some common actions include:
- Reduction in pay
- Reduction in responsibility
- Failure to promote
- Unwarranted disciplinary action
- Verbal abuse
Alaska Law Prohibits Discrimination After a Work Injury Claim
Workers are protected from discrimination by an employer for a variety of reasons, including age, sex, and race. They are also shielded when they report unfair or unsafe working conditions, and these protections extend to retaliation for pursuing a workers’ compensation claim.
It is illegal for an employer to take action against an injured worker because he filed a claim in good faith. Even if the claim was not approved, if the employee had a reasonable belief that he was eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, he is protected from retaliation. Alaska law states that employers who engage in retaliatory behavior can be held responsible in a civil legal action.
Proving Employer Work Injury Retaliation
State law also sets criteria for employer discrimination cases such as retaliation after a work injury. These conditions must exist for an employer retaliation claim:
- The employee engaged in a protected activity (such as a filing a good faith workers’ compensation claim).
- There was an adverse employment action (such as those noted above).
- There was a connection between the protected activity and the adverse employment action.
What If an Employer Retaliates Against an Injured Employee?
If you think your employer is retaliating against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim, it’s important to do two things. First, document everything. Keep all correspondence from your employer and write down notes about negative interactions, including names of those who may have witnessed the incidents.
Second, take action as soon as possible. Often, the time limits on filing a workers’ compensation retaliation claim are limited. The timing of any action can be important in these cases. Consult an experienced attorney who can help you more fully understand your rights before it is too late to protect yourself.
An Attorney Can Protect Your Rights to Care and Compensation
Workers often have little experience with the workers’ compensation program and with the law. It can be overwhelming to navigate the system, especially when recovering from an injury. You should not have to deal with the added worry of employer retaliation. Even if you aren’t sure of your rights or if your employer’s behavior would constitute retaliation, ask someone who can provide the answers you need. At The Law Office of Ben Crittenden, attorney Ben Crittenden provides a voice for injury victims all over Alaska. He works hard to make sure that his clients’ stories are told, and they are able to obtain the care and compensation they need to recover as fully as possible.
If you or someone you love has suffered an injury on the job, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Call Ben today or take a moment to fill out the contact form on this page. You’ll reach Ben directly, and he will answer your questions and help you find the most effective way forward.