The short answer is yes—but not without recourse. An employer can fire you for any reason; however, there is recourse that can be taken if an employer fires you, or even threatens to fire you, for reporting your work-related injury. The legislature in Minnesota Statutes § 176.82 provides this recourse in subdivision 1, stating that an employer who fires or threatens to fire “an employee for seeking workers’ compensation benefits” or “intentionally obstructs an employee seeking workers’ compensation benefits” is liable to pay damages to the employee. These damages include any loss in workers’ compensation benefits caused by a violation, including the costs and attorneys’ fees. These actions are generally referred to as “82 actions.” In practice, 82 actions are fairly uncommon—but they’re also essential. The action acts as a check against employers, allowing employees to recover the workers’ compensation benefits that they would have received except for the unlawful interference of their employer.
Now, it is uncommon for an employer to overtly violate this section of Minnesota law by threatening to fire an injured worker for reporting an on-the-job injury. What we see at Meuser Law Office, P.A. more frequently in practice, are situations where a supervisor asks an employee to not report his or her work injury because it would make it financially difficult for the employer. The supervisor essentially tries to guilt the employee into not reporting the injury. In exchange for not reporting, the supervisor promises to “take care of” the employee. Inevitably, the employer does not end up paying the injured worker the benefits that he or she is entitled to and the injured worker is left in a problematic position. For example, in these cases, the employee will seek care following the injury and tell his doctor that the injury occurred at home. Then when the employer stops paying for the employee’s medical care and wages, the employee will come clean and tell the doctor that the injury actually occurred on the job. This is problematic for a number of reasons, but the first is that the employee’s delay in reporting the injury as work-related often results in a denial of the claim.
If you’ve been injured on the job, do not delay in reporting your injury to your supervisor and always have a First Report of Injury filed. It is also crucial that an employee always report your injury as it actually occurred to your treating physician.
Following an on-the-job injury, the first thing you should do is see a doctor. It is important that you explain to the doctor exactly how you were injured and disclose that you were working at the time the injury occurred. The next thing you should do is report the injury to your supervisor or to a member of your human resources department. Your employer has an obligation to fill out a First Report of Injury, which documents the “who/what/where/and how” of your injury. If you don’t report this injury right away, an employer may have certain defenses, such as lack of appropriate notice of your injury, and may deny your Minnesota workers’ compensation claim.
Even if you’re unsure of whether your injury will result in lost time from work or significant treatment, at Meuser Law Office, P.A., we advise our clients to report and notify employers right away if you’ve sustained an injury in the course and scope of your employment. Our experienced Minnesota workers’ compensation attorneys can help you avoid unnecessary stress over losing your job as a result of filing a workers’ compensation claim. Call Meuser Law Office, P.A. today for a free, no-obligation consultation. Meuser Law will arm you with valuable information regarding MN workers’ compensation and your potential claim and help guide you through the process.