Workers have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim when injured on the job. However, according to the California Department of Industrial Relations, approximately 20% of workers who file a claim face some form of employer retaliation.
This statistic highlights the need for employees to understand their rights and protections under California labor laws.
What is employer retaliation?
Employer retaliation comes about when an employer takes adverse actions against an employee in response to their filing a workers’ compensation claim.
The law prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for seeking workers’ compensation benefits.
What does retaliation look like?
Employer retaliation can manifest itself in various ways. Some are more subtle than others.
For example, through unjust termination. Some employers may wrongfully fire an employee who has filed a workers’ compensation claim.
In some cases, employers may cut an employee’s hours or demote them in an attempt to discourage them from pursuing their workers’ compensation benefits.
Employers might provide unfairly negative performance evaluations as a means of punishment. This can affect raises, promotions or even lead to unemployment.
Employees may experience hostility, harassment or a generally uncomfortable work environment following the filing of a workers’ compensation claim.
Sometimes employers isolate or exclude an employee from team activities or important work-related discussions.
How does the law protect workers?
To protect employees, labor laws provide certain protections against employer retaliation.
For example, the law states that employers may not retaliate against employees for exercising their rights to workers’ compensation benefits. The law also protects employees who report unsafe working conditions or illegal activities in the workplace.
If someone believes they are the target of employer retaliation, they have the right to file a complaint with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.
While workers’ compensation is a safety net for employees, it is important to be aware of the potential risks of employer retaliation. Knowing your rights can help ensure fair treatment in the workplace.