Workers’ Compensation Retaliation in California

Workers’ Comp Retaliation Examples

Getting hurt on the job can be a scary and confusing experience. You're not just dealing with the physical pain and recovery but also the financial burden of lost wages and medical bills.

Retaliation, in the context of workers' comp, boils down to any adverse action your employer takes against you because you filed a claim. Here are some common ways it manifests:

  • Harassment or intimidation. The employer or management may start treating the employee differently after they've filed for workers' compensation, which could include making derogatory comments, isolating them from team activities, or creating a hostile work environment.
  • Demotion or pay reduction. If an employee suddenly experiences a demotion or a reduction in pay after filing a workers' comp claim, it could be a sign of retaliation. This is especially true if there's no valid reason for the demotion or pay cut.
  • Increased scrutiny. Micromanagement and excessive performance reviews could be a way to make you uncomfortable.
  • Termination or forced resignation. One of the most extreme forms of retaliation is termination. If an employee is fired shortly after filing a workers' comp claim, it could be a case of retaliation. Similarly, if an employer forces or pressures an employee to resign, it may also be considered retaliatory.

Should You Worry About Retaliation for Filing for Workers’ Comp?

When facing workplace injuries, many employees feel apprehensive about filing for workers’ compensation due to the fear of retaliation. However, it’s important to understand that the law is on your side. In California, retaliation for filing a workers' compensation claim is illegal, and you are protected by specific laws that prohibit employers from taking adverse actions against you.

Legal Protection Under California Law

As per California Labor Code §132(a), employers are legally barred from practicing discrimination or retaliation towards employees who make use of their workers' compensation rights. This provision applies to all employers, regardless of their size or type of business, and covers both public and private sector employees in California.

The law explicitly prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on their exercise of workers' comp rights. It also protects employees engaged in specific activities related to workers' compensation.

Acts prohibited under this labor law include:

  • Termination or demotion
  • Reduced pay or hours
  • Unwarranted negative performance reviews
  • Increased scrutiny or monitoring
  • Hostile work environment

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who file for workers’ comp. This legislation offers enhanced safeguards against retaliation and encompasses a broad spectrum of unfavorable employment activities. These activities are linked to an employee's protected status, like a disability or perceived disability that stems from a work-related injury.

Retaliation Can Backfire on Employers

Employers who engage in unlawful retaliation face the wrath of the law. This can include:

  • Reinstatement of your job with back pay and benefits
  • Financial compensation for emotional distress
  • Punitive damages against the employer

How Hard Is It to Prove Retaliation in the Workplace?

Proving retaliation isn’t impossible. While demonstrating retaliation requires evidence, it's not an insurmountable task. Here are some tips:

  • Document everything. Keep detailed notes about any negative changes in your work environment, conversations with supervisors, and disciplinary actions after filing your claim.
  • Don't stay silent. Report any suspected retaliation to your employer's Human Resources department.
  • Seek outside support. Consider reaching out to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney, as they can help you collect evidence and take action against retaliation.

Don’t Let Fear Stop You. Reach Out to Our Firm!

Fear of retaliation should not stop you from seeking the benefits you deserve. If you are facing retaliatory action or have other worries about filing a workers’ comp claim, the attorneys at the Law Offices of Wax & Wax are here and equipped to help you.

For over 30 years, our firm has helped our clients navigate their workers’ compensation claims, and we have a proven track record of success in helping our clients. When you retain our services, we can work to set your mind at ease by providing you with personalized, comprehensive counsel.

We are known for our commitment to being responsive to clients and working to help our clients attain favorable case outcomes. Call (818) 946-0608 to discuss your case with our team.