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Workers' Compensation Retaliation: How to Handle the Situation

Employers must provide a safe working environment for their employees. When your employer fails to provide this type of environment and you're injured, you may have a right to file a workers' compensation claim.

Even after you file the claim, the responsibilities of your employer don't stop; they must also take your claim seriously and treat you fairly throughout the process. When this doesn't happen and you are retaliated against because of your plan to file a claim, you do have options. Learn what retaliation is and how to handle the matter.

Recognizing Retaliation

Retaliation is best described as revenge or tit-for-tat behavior, and while it can occur in a more overt fashion, such as the outright firing of an employee, retaliation may also surface in far more subtle ways.

For example, an employer could write an unfavorable, and unwarranted, report about the injured employee on an upcoming review. The company could then take steps to terminate the employee on the grounds of poor performance, even though the actual reason for the firing is retaliation.

An employer could also make the working environment for the injured victim challenging. When your employer can but won't make concessions for your injuries, such as modifying your responsibilities, this is also unfair behavior that could be retaliation. Any intentional action on the part of your employer to punish you for filing a workers' compensation claim will likely fall into this category.

Proving Retaliation

The fact that the company you work for is retaliating against you may not be enough - you need to provide proof of the action. An essential element of providing evidence is your ability to highlight the motivation behind their actions.

Take the previous scenario of your employer intentionally failing to make concessions for you. Assume you have no other choice but to quit the position because you're unable to physically meet the demands of the job without the necessary accommodations.

If you've provided the company with documentation of your injuries and orders from your doctor which notate your physical limitations and requirements for employment, your employers' ongoing failure to make these adjustments may be the motivating factor which convinces you to quit.

Always document every encounter you have with your employer to make proving retaliation an easier process. Emails, voice messages, and any other proof you have that confirms that you provided the company with the appropriate information is helpful.

Fighting Retaliation

At the first indication of unwarranted and unfair behavior against you, make sure you speak up. Have a conversation with your manager or an HR representative so that you can express your concerns and better assess whether the actions taken towards you are intentional or not.

After this conversation, if your employer is still treating you unfairly and not rectifying any concern you have, you may have other options available to you.

The state of Wisconsin does not take discrimination against injured workers lightly and provides various outlets for you to have your voice heard, including the option to file a wrongful discharge lawsuit or a complaint on the basis of a Fair Employment Act violation.

However, all these avenues come with time limits, and if time expires, your pool of options will shrink. Once you notice this wrongful behavior aimed towards you, be prepared to take swift action while you still have time.

Don't let your employer retaliate against you. Since you are not responsible for your injuries, you should not be mistreated for exercising your legal right to file a claim. For questions and concerns about your rights for workers' compensation, call Carlson, Blau & Clemens SC.

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