Legal Protection against Retaliation for Filing a Workers Comp Claim in Florida

Many injured workers carry on working and paying for their medical care because they are afraid that they would lose their job if they file a workers comp claim. They are not aware that laws protect them from employer retaliation in workers comp cases. The best decision is to discuss your case with a Fort Myers workers comp lawyer and understand your rights and options.

Here are a few important aspects to know about your rights as an employee after you file a claim.

Florida Workers Comp Law Prohibits Employer Retaliation

Florida Statutes 440.205 directly addresses this issue. The law states that an employer cannot retaliate against an employee who has a valid claim for compensation. The employer cannot engage in the following conducts:

  • Terminating the employee
  • Threatening to terminate the employee
  • Intimidating the employee to refrain from filing the claim
  • Coercing the employee to give up the pursuit of their legal rights

As you can see, the legal text is thorough and detailed in stating what the employer cannot do. The question is: can it be enforced if an employer breaks it?

How the At-Will Employment Principle Interferes with Legal Protection

The most important impediment in proving employer retaliation in workers comp cases is the fact that our state, like most U.S. states, has an at-will employment rule. This means that an employer can fire an employee for any reason, except by reason of discrimination.

Injured workers wonder if they really have any protection at all. The answer depends on various factors, but mostly to the circumstances of your termination.

Florida Jurors Have the Right to Infer Retaliatory Intent

If you are fired for filing a workers comp claim, your only option for proving employer retaliation is filing a lawsuit against them. This is never a sure win, and can be problematic because the employer was certainly not careless enough to mention to anyone the real reason why they terminated you.

an employer cannot fire you for filing a workers comp claim

However, Florida courts allow juries to infer retaliatory termination even without direct evidence. For example, you are fired a few days after reporting your workplace accident to your employer and stating that you will file a workers comp claim.

At this point, according to a Fort Myers workers comp lawyer, you have engaged in protected conduct. The immediate firing can be inferred to be a retaliatory response and the jury has the right to treat it so and rule in your favor.

Common Signs of Employer Retaliation in Workers Comp Cases

Terminating an employee is not the only way in which an employer may try to retaliate. Some of them apply more subtle methods, trying to persuade the injured worker to quit of their own will or trying to build a case for letting the employee go for other reasons.

You should be on the lookout and document all of the following instances:

  • The employer reassigns you to a new position that pays significantly less
  • You are subject to a performance evaluation with inconsistently poor results
  • A prior application for a promotion is suddenly denied
  • You receive the least desirable work schedules compared to the other team members

Can You Be Fired While Out on Workers Comp?

Finally, let us discuss a common scenario. Your workers comp claim is approved and you are receiving medical treatment and replacement wages paid by the insurance company. Soon your employer informs you that you are fired.

This is legal – however, the already approved workers comp benefits cannot stop. You have a period of time where you receive replacement wages and have the freedom to look for another job.

Discuss Your Claim with a Skilled Fort Myers Workers Comp Lawyer!

Employer retaliation in workers comp cases is unfortunately real and happens in many cases. However, you have options to pursue a case in court. Or you can let an experienced Fort Myers workers comp lawyer fight for your benefits, so you can recover from your injuries and find a new job.

What matters is not giving up your legal right to file a claim, so call us to schedule a free case review at 954-324-COMP!

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