Being injured on the job is a terrifying experience. Not only do you have to worry about your injuries, but also your livelihood. You worry about getting back to work, and your ability to work in the future.
Luckily, Ohio’s workers’ compensation system has your back. Immediately after your injury, you can receive medical attention, ongoing care and still receive a percentage of your salary. It can take a terrible experience and make it manageable.
However, what happens if your employer retaliates against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim?
Why would they retaliate?
If your employer is self-insured, every dollar that pays you while you are healing and for your medical care comes out of company funds. If not, their insurance rates still go up. And, if you are not in the workplace, you cannot help generate profits.
For some employers, this makes you a liability, and they want to eliminate that liability.
Retaliation is against the law
Retaliation based on filing for workers’ compensation benefits is against Ohio law. Specifically, it is made illegal by Section 4123.90 in Title 41 (Labor and Industry), Chapter 4123 (Workers’ Compensation), of the Ohio Revised Code.
Moreover, people that participate in the investigation process are similarly protected. This means that, if you testified or spoke with an investigator, your employer cannot retaliate against you either.
What counts as retaliation?
For the most part, workers’ compensation retaliation is the same type of workplace retaliation in any other context.
The Ohio Revised Code does specify that it includes firing, demotions, unwanted reassignments and any other “punitive” actions.
This means that just about any negative employment action taken as a result of the workers’ compensation filing can qualify as retaliation.
If you have experienced retaliation, you can take your employer to court. You can sue to get your job back (with all of your lost wages), if you were fired.
If you were demoted, reassigned or the victim of some other punitive action, you can be awarded your lost wages that resulted.
Additionally, your reasonable attorneys’ fees can be included in your lawsuit. However, you must file within 180 days of the punitive action, and you must provide written notice within 90 days of the action to your employer.