Worker’s Compensation Retaliation

In Michigan, employees who are injured as a part of performing their jobs are entitled to worker’s compensation benefits.  Worker’s compensation, or work comp, provides wage replacement, medical costs, and rehabilitation to workers who suffer a work-related injury.  All employees should be eligible for worker’s compensation benefits if their injuries qualify.  When an employer has a lot of injury claims on its worker’s compensation policy, it can make the cost the employer pays for the policy go up.  Because of this, employers often do not want employees to make worker’s compensation claims, even when they suffer a work-related injury.

In Michigan, employers are not allowed to fire an employee because he or she made a worker’s compensation claim, or threatened to make a worker’s compensation claim.  If you have been fired for making a worker’s compensation claim, that is called worker’s compensation retaliation, or “work comp retaliation,” and you can file a lawsuit against your employer for wrongful termination.  To win your lawsuit, you would need to show that the reason you were fired from your job was that you pursued your rights under Michigan’s worker’s compensation laws.  Sometimes, an employer directly tells an employee that he or she is being fired for filing for work comp.  Other times, the employer complains about the work comp filing, but then comes up with some other excuse for firing an employee.  In the later example, the Court would look at the employer’s complaints about the worker’s compensation claim being filed as evidence of “discriminatory animus,” or bad intent, and also look at the reason the employer gave for the firing to see how valid it seems, to determine overall whether it seems like the real reason for the firing was the worker’s compensation claim.

There are scenarios where you can file for worker’s compensation and then legally be fired for another reason.  For example, if the reason you were injured was that you violated a safety rule, the employer could still discipline you for violating the rule, up to and including firing you.  If that scenario became a lawsuit, the Court would look at how the employer disciplined other employees who committed similar safety violations and did not file for worker’s compensation and whether there was any other evidence to suggest that the employer did not want you to file for worker’s compensation benefits, such as asking you not to or complaining that you did.

If you filed for worker’s compensation benefits and where then fired, and you believe that the reason you were fired was that you filed for work comp, please call Gold Star Law to find out what we can do to help.