Can My Employer Retaliate for Filing a Workers’ Comp Claim in Virginia?

Can My Employer Retaliate for Filing a Workers’ Comp Claim in Virginia?

Can My Employer Retaliate for Filing a Workers’ Comp Claim in Virginia?

As an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in Virginia, I understand that workplace accidents and injuries can have a profound impact on an individual’s life. Fortunately, the workers’ compensation system is in place to provide financial and medical benefits to employees who suffer from work-related injuries or illnesses. However, one common concern that many injured workers have is whether their employer can retaliate against them for filing a workers’ compensation claim. The answer is a resounding, “No!”

Understanding Workers’ Compensation Laws in Virginia

Before diving into the specifics of employer retaliation, it is important to have a solid grasp of workers’ compensation laws in Virginia. The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act (VWCA) sets forth the rights and obligations of both employers and employees in the state. Under the act, employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, which provides benefits to employees who sustain work-related injuries or illnesses.

What Constitutes Employer Retaliation?

Employer retaliation occurs when an employer takes adverse action against an employee for exercising their rights under the workers’ compensation system. Adverse actions can take various forms, including but not limited to:

  • Termination or demotion
  • Reduction in work hours or wages
  • Reassignment to less desirable job tasks
  • Intimidation or harassment

Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who have filed workers’ compensation claims to ensure that individuals are not discouraged from seeking the benefits they are entitled to under the law.

Virginia Laws Protecting Against Employer Retaliation

Fortunately, Virginia law explicitly prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for exercising their rights in relation to workers’ compensation. Section 65.2-308.1 of the VWCA makes it unlawful for employers to discharge or discriminate against an employee who has filed or attempted to file a workers’ compensation claim.

Additionally, Virginia Code Section 40.1-51.2 further protects employees by establishing that it is illegal for employers to discharge, discipline, or discriminate against an employee because they have opposed any discriminatory practice, including the filing of a workers’ compensation claim.

The Burden of Proof

While the laws in Virginia protect employees from employer retaliation, it is essential to understand that proving retaliation can be challenging. To successfully assert a claim for employer retaliation, an injured worker must demonstrate the following:

  1. They engaged in a protected activity, such as filing or attempting to file a workers’ compensation claim.
  2. The employer took adverse action against them.
  3. There is a causal connection between the protected activity and the adverse action taken by the employer.

Proving a causal connection can often be the most complex element, as employers may cite other reasons for their actions. However, with the guidance of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney, you can build a strong case and protect your rights.

What to Do If You Experience Employer Retaliation

Experiencing retaliation from your employer after filing a workers’ compensation claim can be distressing. However, it is crucial to remain calm and take the appropriate steps to protect your rights. If you believe you are a victim of employer retaliation, here are a few essential actions to consider:

  1. Document any incidents related to the retaliation, including dates, times, and descriptions of the adverse actions taken.
  2. Notify your workers’ compensation attorney about the situation as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.
  3. File a written complaint with the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry, as they are responsible for investigating claims of employer retaliation.
  4. Cooperate fully with any investigation undertaken by the Department of Labor and Industry.
  5. Maintain records of any medical treatment or rehabilitation associated with your original workers’ compensation claim.

Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Roanoke

If you suspect that your employer is retaliating against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim, it is crucial to consult with a seasoned workers’ compensation attorney in Roanoke, Virginia. An experienced lawyer will review the specific details of your case, guide you through the process, and advocate for your rights under the law. Remember, you are entitled to the benefits and protections provided by workers’ compensation laws, and you should not suffer any form of retaliation for asserting your rights.

We have helped numerous workers navigate the complex landscape of workers’ compensation claims in Virginia. Contact our team today to schedule a consultation and ensure your rights are protected.