Anytime individuals sustain an on-the-job injury, they should be able to recover workers’ compensation benefits. This means that their medical expenses related to the workplace injury should be paid for, as well as a significant portion of lost wages if they cannot work while they recover. However, there are times when employers retaliate against an employee for reporting an injury or collecting workers’ compensation benefits. Here, we want to discuss what this retaliation looks like and what options employees have if this happens to them.
No employer wants an injury to occur in the workplace. If you are lucky, your employer does not want an injury to occur because they care about your well-being. However, all too often, employers do not want an injury to occur because they know this could increase their expenses when it comes to paying workers’ compensation premiums.
Just about every employer in Colorado is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance that pays benefits to employees if they sustain job-related injuries. Colorado law also protects employers from retaliating against a worker who reports their injury and subsequently collects workers’ compensation benefits. The protection for individuals in these situations comes from common law in Colorado. These laws are not written into the statute by the legislature, but they are crafted by the court system. The courts have held that wrongful termination after a person sustains a workplace injury and collects compensation is illegal.
Additionally, it is against the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) to discriminate against any employee who has a legitimate disability. The disabilities must be recognized by the ADA, and employers should provide the accommodations necessary for the employee to continue their duties to the best of their ability. In some cases, a workplace injury or illness could qualify as a disability under the ADA, in which case an individual may be able to bring a wrongful termination lawsuit or a discrimination lawsuit if the employer retaliates against them.
Why would an employer want to terminate an employee in these situations?
The reality is that many workplaces try to blame a worker for their own injuries, or they see the injured worker as a liability moving forward. An employer may want to get rid of the employee who sustained the injury in the hopes that there will not be any future claims made with workers’ compensation insurance. In some cases, smaller employers may try to terminate an employee because they need to fill the position while a person is not able to work.
It should be noted that it is not impossible for a person to lose their job after sustaining workplace injury and while collecting benefits. Each situation will need to be examined to determine whether or not the employer broke common law when they terminated the injured worker.
If you believe that you have been retaliated against in your Colorado workplace because you have sustained a workplace injury and filed a workers’ compensation claim, it is crucial for you to work with a skilled attorney as soon as possible. This area of law is complicated, but a skilled attorney can help advise you as to whether or not you may be able to file a wrongful termination or discrimination claim against your employer. Additionally, you need to make sure that you recover the compensation you are entitled to through your workers’ compensation benefits. A skilled Denver workers compensation lawyer can help ensure that you recover this compensation.