Millions of people are injured while at work every year in the U.S., and many of them are entitled to workers’ compensation for their injuries. In order to apply for workers’ compensation benefits, victims must notify their employer of the injury. Sadly, many people fear that reporting an injury that occurred at work may cost them their job. But, is this a legitimate concern? Can your employer actually fire you for reporting an injury?
According to 85A OK Stat § 85A-7 (2014), employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees that have filed a workers’ compensation claim. Retaliation can take many forms, including demoting, firing, or giving a pay cut to an employee because of his decision to file a workers’ compensation claim. Under this law, employers are also prohibited from firing an employee that is currently receiving temporary disability payments simply because he is unable to work due to his injuries. Employers that violate this law may be ordered to pay the victim back pay up to $100,000.
However, employers do not always have to continue to employ individuals that have been injured while at work. If a doctor determines that an employee will never be able to physically perform the duties of his job again, the employer is allowed to terminate him. In this case, the employer would not face legal action since the employee is no longer able to do the job that he was hired to do.
The Current State of the Law
The law may seem fairly straightforward, but unfortunately, it’s not. This law states that people that have been fired because they have filed a workers’ compensation claim must bring the case in front of the Workers’ Compensation Commission. Because of this, the law basically eliminates the plaintiff’s right to a jury trial. Is this constitutional? The answer to this question is still being decided by the courts. As a result, the Workers’ Compensation Commission has decided not to hear retaliation cases until this issue has been resolved. If the courts determine that 85A OK Stat § 85A-7 (2014) is constitutional, it is safe to assume that the commission will continue to hear retaliation cases. If it is ruled unconstitutional, the future of this law is not as clear.
There are a lot of questions that still need to be answered about this law. For now, it’s in your best interest to get in touch with an experienced attorney if you have been fired because you have filed a workers’ compensation claim. Schedule a free consultation with the attorneys at Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. by calling 918-582-2500 or (800) 722-8880. You can also contact us online to get in touch with our team today.