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Discrimination and workers' compensation: What you need to know

You were doing your job when your coworker made a mistake that nearly cost you your life. You suffered serious injuries, and you needed to go to the hospital immediately. You knew you'd be covered by workers' compensation, and you were. However, your boss seems to begrudge you over the claim. Is that fair? No. Is it legal? Perhaps not, depending on how far your employer takes his dissatisfaction.

Can you be discriminated against for filing a workers' compensation complaint?

No, it is illegal to discriminate against you or to do anything in retaliation against you because you decided to file a workers' compensation claim. According to workers' compensation laws, any employer who discriminates against or discharges an employee due to filing a claim is breaking the law.

It is within an employee's rights to file a complaint if this occurs. The job may be reopened to the individual as a remedy. If you choose to take the job back after being fired in this manner, make sure you have the ability to work it correctly, or you could be fired for other reasons. If you choose not to take the job back, you can pursue a civil lawsuit against the employer for the treatment you've been put through.

If you believe that your employer isn't retaliating against you because of the claim but instead because of your disability, then you may want to file a claim through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) claiming discrimination in the workplace instead of filing a workers' compensation discrimination lawsuit. Your attorney can help you decide on which kind of claim you should file.

Source: New Jersey Department of Labor, "Discrimination Complaints," accessed March 24, 2017

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