Employer Retaliation for Workers Compensation Claims

August 31, 2015

Philadelphia workers comp attorneysAny employee who has been injured on the job and followed the rules by reporting the accident to his or her employer within the required 21 days should be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits to cover their medical expenses and lost wages while they are recuperating from the injury. Workers’ comp is a no-fault system, which means that the employee does not need to sue their employer and prove negligence in order to get compensation. However, the employer is not permitted to fire an employee for reporting a workplace accident and injury.  If a worker believes that he or she has been fired for filing a workers’ compensation claim, or because they were a witness in support of a colleague’s claim, they may be able to take legal action against the employer for workers’ compensation retaliation.

Workers’ Compensation retaliation claims

In the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania’s decision in Shick v. Shirey, 716 A.2d 1231 (Pa. 1998), the Court concluded that the employee’s right to file a workers’ compensation claim after a work place injury is protected under PA law. So, it is unlawful for an employer to fire an employee in retaliation for that employee’s filing a workers’ compensation claim.

If an employee wants to prove that his or her firing was in retaliation for their workers’ compensation claim, he or she must be able to show:

  1. The employee was engaged in the legally protected activity of filing a workers comp claim
  2. The employee was fired after filing the claim
  3. A causal link between the protected activity and the termination of his or her employment

The timing of an employee being fired plays an important role because where there is a short period of time between the employee’s filing a workers’ comp claim and the subsequent firing, the Court can infer that the termination was unlawful.

Other forms of employer retaliation

According to the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission, the law prohibits any form of retaliation in any aspect of employment including the following:

  • Hiring
  • Firing
  • Pay
  • Job Assignments
  • Promotions
  • Lay-offs
  • Training
  • Fringe benefits
  • Any other terms and conditions of employment

While it is true that an employee can be fired at any time for any reason or for no reason under the at-will employment. According to Workplace Fairness, there are “common law protections” that serve as exceptions to the at-will doctrine in employment. In Pennsylvania the Courts have protected filing for workers’ compensation claims as demonstrated in Shick v. Shirey.

Employees who have believe they have been retaliated against in any way for filing a workers’ compensation claim may be able to take legal action against their employer. They should contact a Philadelphia workers’ comp lawyer at Larry Pitt & Associates and schedule a free consultation to discuss their case and get some legal advice about their options.

If you suffered a workplace injury and then got fired, contact the Philadelphia workers’ compensation attorneys at Larry Pitt & Associates. We can help you get justice. We have offices throughout Pennsylvania to serve clients in Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties and beyond.