When you are injured on the job or develop an occupational illness in New York, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits that address your medical bills and pay you a weekly amount based on the degree of your disability and how much you were earning before you were injured.
Unfortunately, many injured workers refrain from filing a claim because they fear retaliation for doing so. Employers resentful over increased insurance costs have been known to act in aggressive and hostile ways towards employees who seek compensation benefits for their injuries.
While there is no federal law that prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who file a workers’ compensation claim, most states—New York included—have laws that protect you from actions like the following:
- Termination: You may not be fired or told you cannot have your job back after returning from medical leave.
- Demotion: It is illegal to demote you to a lesser and lower-paying position because you filed a workers’ compensation claim in New York.
- Discrimination: An employer cannot discriminate against you for filing a claim. In addition, you may be protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 if you want to resume your job and have a mental or physical disability.
- Harassment: Your boss cannot harass you or cultivate a hostile workplace environment for you for filing a claim.
If you were injured at work and believe that your employer has retaliated against you for acting on your rights, then the next step is to file a complaint with your closest Workers’ Compensation Board District Office.
According to the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board website, any employers in the state that terminate or otherwise discriminate against an employee who claims or attempts to claim workers’ compensation benefits can be fined anywhere from $100 to $500. If you file a complaint within two years of the alleged discrimination and the Board concludes that your employer violated the law, then potential outcomes include:
- Compensation for any losses caused by the retaliation, such as wages lost due to demotion or termination
- Restoration to your previous position
Filing a personal injury claim for a workplace injury
Although you cannot sue your employer for your injuries, you can file a personal injury claim against third parties involved in your accident, such as vendors or clients. As you can imagine, some employers may become hostile toward a worker who sues one of their valued clients or vendors.
If you have been subject to employer retaliation and suffered mental and emotional injuries in addition to loss of income, then a New York personal injury attorney can advise you on your rights in such a situation and help you pursue a claim against any negligent third parties.
Jayson Lutzky is a personal injury and accident attorney with over 35 years of legal experience practicing law in New York State. His office is located in the Morris Park neighborhood of the Bronx and he offers free initial in-person consultations. Call 718-329-9500 to set up an appointment.