Workers who have been injured on the job too frequently experience various forms of intimidation after filing a workers’ comp claim. Some workers are afraid to file a claim at all because they fear of retaliation from their employer.
In 1992, North Carolina enacted the Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act (REDA) to prevent employers from discouraging workers from filing workers’ comp claims. REDA was passed in response to a deadly fire at a food products plant in 1991 that killed 25 workers. An investigation revealed that the company had committed a number of safety violations, including locking fire doors to prevent employee theft. Sadly, the surviving employees reported that they were too fearful of losing their jobs to report the violations.
REDA provides employees with a powerful weapon to protect their rights in the workplace to ensure such senseless tragedies do not take place again. Employers who intentionally retaliate against their employees for filing workers’ comp claims may be forced to pay treble damages and attorneys’ fees.
Often, employers will not terminate an employee for filing a workers’ comp claim, but will engage in other abusive actions designed to get the employee to quit, including assigning unpleasant tasks to the employee or failing to abide by work restrictions recommended by a doctor. Employers engage in these types of actions because it is often more difficult to prove retaliation than if they just terminated the employee. If the employee quits their job, many employers try to use that fact to defeat the workers’ comp claim and to avoid having to accommodate the employee’s injuries.
If you are injured on the job and feel your employer is harassing you because you filed a workers’ compensation claim or are contemplating filing a claim, you should not quit your job or take other action before consulting a workers’ compensation attorney. A good attorney can assist you in the proper steps to take to protect your interests.
Don’t be afraid to exercise your rights. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.