After you have been injured at work, one of the first things that might come to you mind is “Can I be fired for filing a workers’ compensation claim?” There are many reasons you might feel this way. Maybe you just started your job and you do not want to upset your new employer by filing a claim for your injuries. Maybe you have heard that your employer has become upset in the past about workers filing compensation claims. It could even be that your employer has actually warned you against filing a claim. In any of these events, New Jersey Law provides you with protection from such retaliation.
The New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Law has a long history of protecting workers’ rights to medical treatment and disability payments for on-the-job injuries. In fact, the law expressly states that it is unlawful to discharge or discriminate against an employee because he “has claimed or attempted to claim workmen’s compensation benefits.” Our Legislators found it so important to protect workers from this kind of discrimination that the law imposes financial penalties and even imprisonment for violations. N.J.S.A. 34:15-39.1.
In addition to the penalties for retaliating against a worker who filed a compensation claim, the law requires that the employee be restored to his employment if he is able to perform the job duties. Further, he must be compensated for lost wages. There is even the possibility of a civil action for punitive and other damages against the offending employer. Lally v. Copygraphics, 173 N.J.Super. 162 (App.Div. 1980).
If you have been injured at work, or terminated or retaliated against because of your filing a workers’ compensation claim, you should contact a workers’ compensation attorney.