Unfortunately, sometimes people who suffer an injury at work or in the line of duty are afraid to file a workers’ compensation claim because they are worried they will lose their job. The reality is that employers will make off-handed remarks that the company can’t financially handle any more employees filing work comp claims or the general undertone is that good employees “suck it up” and don’t complain, despite the fact that they might be seriously hurt.
Under Minnesota law, employers are not allowed to fire you for filing a work comp claim. Under Minnesota Statute § 176.82, you may have a civil action against an employer who “obstructs” your ability to seek workers’ compensation benefits. “Any person discharging or threatening to discharge an employee for seeking workers’ compensation benefits or in any manner intentionally obstructing an employee seeking workers’ compensation benefits is liable in a civil action.” Minn. Stat. § 176.82. The civil penalties for violating this statute include the costs of pursuing a court action, attorney’s fees, and punitive damages that do not include any monetary benefit you may be owed for the workers’ compensation claim. Additionally, under this statute, if an employer has “light duty” available for you within your physical restrictions they cannot refuse to offer you the work they have available.
That being said, the reality is that employers sometimes do fire employees for filing a work comp claim, even though it’s against the law. This can be a tough claim to prove because Minnesota is an “at will” employment state, meaning employers, aside from anything illegal, can fire employees for pretty much any reason or no reason at all. Employers who fire you for filing a comp claim may do so under the guise of “misconduct”, minor mistakes or errors. They make look for every excuse to get rid of you to avoid paying the workers’ compensation claim or possible litigation if you choose to seek counsel from a work comp lawyer MN.
Our attorneys have seen instances where employers harass and attempt to intimidate employees, doing everything within their power to get employees who file work comp claims to quit. Later in the process, they use this as an argument against your entitlement to wage loss or rehabilitation benefits to which you are afforded under the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act. While you still may be entitled to these benefits, if you quit under certain circumstances it becomes a more difficult battle.
That’s why it’s important to retain a lawyer early in the work comp process. Often just an employer’s awareness that you are represented by an attorney is sufficient to avoid harassment or the threat of being fired. Experienced attorneys can see potential future issues and advise you on how to avoid common missteps in the process that can cost you thousands in benefits. At Meuser Law Office, P.A. we advise our clients to report and notify employers early on of any injury you believe you sustained in the course and scope of your employment. We can then help you avoid unnecessary stress over losing your job as a result of filing a work comp claim. Call Meuser Law Office, P.A. at 952-345-2052 or fill out the form on this page for a free consultation to review your potential entitlement to work comp benefits under the law.