While workers’ compensation is a benefit that employees are entitled to after an injury, employers have many ways of making it very difficult for workers to utilize this benefit. After you report an injury at work, you may notice a disturbing trend of increased complaints about your work, veiled threats about demotion or termination, or a more hostile work environment.
If you’ve been the victim of retaliation after filing for workers’ compensation, you have options.
Florida Law Frowns on Forced Resignation
The good news is that Florida law strives to protect employees from retaliation after they file a workers’ compensation claim. Under Florida Statues 440.205, employers cannot terminate, intimidate, coerce, or threaten to terminate an employee because they filed a workers’ compensation claim. While retaliation also covers activities like discipline, demotion, and harassment, many injured workers find themselves the victim of forced resignation.
If your employer makes you feel like your only option is to voluntarily resign or get fired, it is considered a forced resignation. If this occurs, you may be able to seek damages beyond those awarded in your workers’ compensation claim.
How to Prove Retaliation
It can be difficult to prove retaliation, but there are several ways an experienced employment attorney might demonstrate the link between your workers’ compensation case and your forced resignation. Factors include:
- The timing of your forced resignation in relation to your workers’ compensation claim
- Animosity on your employer’s part in response to your claim
- Previous retaliation against employees filing for workers’ compensation
- If your employer changes their story regarding the cause of your resignation
- Whether or not your forced resignation followed standard protocol
The other part of proving retaliation is demonstrating that you were eligible for workers’ compensation and that your employer took action against you specifically because of your workers’ compensation claim.
Most employers in this situation try to claim that their action against you is due to your own poor performance, absenteeism, or any reason except your workers’ compensation claim. A workers’ compensation lawyer can help you gather the necessary evidence and documentation to strengthen your case.
What Type of Compensation You Deserve After Forced Resignation
While a forced resignation case may start because of a workers’ compensation claim, it quickly moves beyond the scope of a standard workers’ compensation case. Workers’ compensation claims are limited to lost income, mileage reimbursement, and medical claims. A retaliation or forced resignation case allows you to pursue additional damages from your employer.
Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may ask for back pay or lost wages, lost wages until you secure new employment, legal fees, punitive damages, pain and suffering, and compensation for any damage to your reputation in your field of employment.
Has Your Employer Retaliated Against You Because of a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Workers’ compensation is a legally protected benefit, and you shouldn’t be punished for filing a claim. If your employer is illegally retaliating against you, don’t take them on alone. Call Scott J. Sternberg & Associates in West Palm Beach at 561-687-5660 to schedule a consultation.