Can My Employer Retaliate Against Me for Filing A Workers’ Compensation Claim in Massachusetts?
Workers’ Compensation is a benefit all employees must receive in Massachusetts. All Massachusetts employers are required to provide no-fault benefits to employees in the event of occupational illness, injury, or death. Accordingly, if an employee suffers a work-related injury, it is their right to seek Workers’ Compensation for the injury.
Workers’ Compensation retaliation is illegal in Massachusetts. Therefore, it is illegal for a Massachusetts employer to punish or mistreat an employee for filing a Workers’ Compensation claim after a workplace accident.
If your employer has retaliated against you for filing a Workers’ Compensation claim, seek help from a Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation lawyer today by calling The Law Office of John J. Sheehan at (617) 925-6407.
Types of Workers’ Compensation Retaliation in Massachusetts
Retaliation can mean any adverse employment decision meant to punish an employee exercising their rights. Specifically, Workers’ Compensation retaliation refers to an employer’s punishment or mistreatment of an employee for filing a Workers’ Compensation claim. The following are common types of Workers’ Compensation retaliation in Massachusetts.
- Job termination
- Wage reduction
- Work schedule changes
- Intimidation or harassment
- Negative performance review
- Disproportionate disciplinary action
- Any other adverse action
A Massachusetts employer has the right to fire or discipline an employee if they have a legal reason to do so. A disciplinary action with valid reasoning does not constitute Workers’ Compensation retaliation. Furthermore, employers in Massachusetts are permitted to replace employees who are in recovery and cannot perform the duties of their job. However, the employer must give the recovering employee preference over other applicants when they chose to return to work.
Employer’s disciplinary actions that primarily serve to punish employees for filing Workers’ Compensation claims constitute retaliation and are not permitted. Additionally, certain acts such as intimidation and harassment are always illegal for employers. Determining whether an action constitutes Workers’ Compensation retaliation can be difficult. A Boston Workers’ Compensation lawyer will assist employees in determining whether they have been wrongfully punished or mistreated.
Workers’ Compensation Retaliation Laws in Massachusetts
Not all workplace retaliation is unlawful. Workplace retaliation is only illegal if the adverse action is taken because an employee engaged in an activity protected by law. For example, complaining about a dress code is not likely a protected activity. However, filing a Workers’ Compensation claim is protected by law in Massachusetts. All Massachusetts employees have a right to seek compensation for a work-related injury.
Additionally, workers in Massachusetts are protected under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave because of a health condition. If employees qualify for benefits, then they may receive Workers’ Compensation while on FMLA leave. It is illegal for employers to withhold an employee’s FMLA benefits because the employee filed a Workers’ Compensation claim.
Furthermore, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) also prohibits a Massachusetts employer with 15 or more employees from discriminating against someone with a disability. If reasonable accommodations allow for an employee to return to work, the employer must provide those accommodations. Failing to accommodate a disabled worker after they file a Workers’ Compensation claim can constitute unlawful retaliation.
It can be difficult for victims to navigate the laws governing Workers’ Compensation retaliation in Massachusetts. A Malden Workers’ Compensation lawyer will help victims understand their rights and how to recover compensation in a workplace retaliation claim.
How to Prove a Workers’ Compensation Retaliation Claim in Massachusetts
To prove Workers’ Compensation retaliation in Massachusetts, an employee must first show that they engaged in the protected activity of filing a Workers’ Compensation claim. Additionally, the worker must show that their employer knew of the protected activity and engaged in an adverse employment action, which the employer would not have taken if not for their employees’ participation in the protected act.
The strongest way to prove Workers’ Compensation retaliation claim is through direct evidence. Direct evidence includes comments directed at or about an employee that suggest the employer is reacting negatively to a protected activity. The mere act of labeling an employee as a troublemaker or as having an attitude problem can amount to evidence of retaliation on behalf of an employer. It is also relevant for Workers’ Compensation retaliation claimants in Massachusetts to show that little time passed between the protected activity and the retaliatory action.
Gathering evidence for Workers’ Compensation retaliation claims in Massachusetts can be difficult. A Somerville Workers’ Compensation lawyer can help gather appropriate evidence and strengthen an employee’s claim.
Damages for Workers’ Compensation Retaliation in Massachusetts
Employees can recover multiple types of damages if they were victims of Workers’ Compensation retaliation in Massachusetts. First, victims may recover for any missed wages or lost earning opportunities suffered because of the workplace retaliation. Second, employees may recover non-economic damages for emotional distresses suffered because of Workers’ Compensation retaliation. Further, punitive damages may be available to discourage any further retaliatory behavior. Lastly, employees may be entitled to job reinstatement and back pay if they lost their position after filling a Workers’ Compensation claim. Employees can accurately estimate the extent of their damages by contacting a Cambridge workers’ compensation lawyer.
Immigrant Workers Protections for Workers’ Compensation Claims in Massachusetts
Immigrant workers are entitled to Workers’ Compensation in Massachusetts. Under Massachusetts law, employees are almost always entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits, regardless of immigrant status. Furthermore, Massachusetts laws governing Workers’ Compensation retaliation also apply to immigrant workers. If an employer reports or threatens to report an immigrant worker to authorities because the worker sought compensation for their workplace injuries, the employer can face prosecution or civil penalties.
If You Were A Victim to Workers’ Compensation Retaliation in Massachusetts, Our Lawyers Can Help
If you have suffered Workers’ Compensation retaliation in Massachusetts, get assistance from a Wakefield Workers’ Compensation lawyer today by calling The Law Office of John J. Sheehan at (617) 925-6407 for a free case review.