An employer cannot fire or otherwise discriminate against an employee who takes steps toward obtaining workers’ compensation benefits for a job-related injury. This protection applies even before a workers’ compensation claim is actually filed, so long as the employer is aware of the injury. Here are some of the kinds of evidence that are often important in proving a claim for workers’ compensation retaliation:
The physical limitations from a job-related injury (even when backed up by a doctor’s note) do not automatically excuse you from performing the essential functions of your job. The employer may be allowed to fire you legally if your medical restrictions prohibit you from performing any part of your job that is truly important over an extended period of time. However, the employer must make reasonable accommodations for such limitations (for example, by giving you “light duty”) to the same extent they would for an employee who was temporarily disabled for reasons other than a workplace injury (say, as the result of a car accident). The idea is that the employer can’t treat your restrictions more harshly just because they result from an on-the-job injury.
An employee has up to two years from the date of the retaliation to begin legal action.