Can My Employer Fire Me for Filing a Workers’ Comp Claim in Ohio?

Barkan Meizlish , July 5, 2019

In a word, no.

In reality, it happens.

Federal and state laws make it illegal for businesses and their managers to punish employee who file claims for workers’ compensation benefits, Still, injured or ill employees do have reasons to worry about retaliation in the workplace in Ohio. When it occurs, the affected employee has rights under the whistleblower provisions of laws like the Occupational Safety and Health Act to seek a workers’ comp retaliation settlement.

How to Recognize Workplace Retaliation

Companies do not like being named in workers’ comp claims. In addition to driving up insurance costs, reports of workplace accidents require investigations that leave companies open to regulatory penalties and requirements to change the way a business operates. Too often, anger and frustration at such consequences gets illegally redirected toward the employee who suffered and called attention to unsafe working conditions.

Workers’ comp retaliation takes many forms. An employee who returns to work after filing a claim can face

  • Firing;
  • Demotion;
  • Pay and benefits cuts;
  • Reassignment to a dirty, dangerous, or low-status job;
  • Insults and bullying; and/or
  • Physical assaults.

What to Do When Retaliation Occurs

It is not always obvious how to prove that retaliation in the workplace is directly related to seeking workers’ comp benefits. Consulting with a trusted member of the HR team member or a concerned supervisor to clarify what is happening can be a good first step. It is also important to document actions that feel or are identified as retaliatory. At some point, speaking confidentially with an employee’s rights attorney will provide some peace of mind and insight on how to end the retaliation or hold the employer accountable for allowing retaliation.

A workers’ comp retaliation settlement typically includes compensation for back pay, front pay and emotional distress. If a case goes to trial, a jury is also empowered to award punitive damages and to order the defendant to pay the employee’s attorney fees. Punitive damages are noncriminal fines that are intended to penalize wrongdoing and serve as an example to other companies that might mistreat people who apply for workers’ comp benefits.

Several attorneys with Barkan Meizlish, LLP, devote themselves to assisting their fellow Ohioans with securing workers’ comp benefits. These lawyers, who work out of each of our offices in Columbus, Cleveland, and Marietta, offer free consultations throughout the state and take appointments online. Employees with concerns about violations of their rights can also get answers by calling (614) 221-4221.

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