One of the most common questions we get asked is whether an employer is legally allowed to fire an injured worker as a result of filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Keep reading to learn more about this complicated topic, and what top Chicago injury lawyer, Brent Eames, has to say about whether you can get fired as a result of filing a claim for workers’ compensation.
Injuries at work are much more common than you might think. According to the 2020 Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses conducted by U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2.7 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported by employers in the private sector in 2020. In Illinois alone, 106, 900 cases were reported by private industry employers for the year 2020. For every 100 workers in 2002, there were 2.7 cases reported. This is despite the COVID-19 pandemic which forced multiple private sector employers to reduce or cease their operations. The 2.7 case-average is significantly higher than an average of 2.5 cases of nonfatal injuries or illnesses per 100 workers that were reported by private industry employers in 2019. Notably, the injury rate was even higher in 2020 among the state and local government employees, constituting an average rate of 4.1 cases per 100 workers.
Given the large number of work-related accidents which occur across Illinois every single day, it would be awful public policy for injured workers to be subject to termination simply for exercising their statutory rights to related benefits. The Illinois Workers Compensation Act, 850 ILCS 305/ was passed in order to ensure that workers who sustained injuries arising out of and in the course of their employment are properly compensated for any medical expenses, lost time from work, and/or any permanent disability or disfigurement caused by the injury. It is important to emphasize that workers have a statutory right to compensation in the case of injury and shall not be reluctant to enforce this right. The Act specifically prohibits employers from retaliating or somehow punishing the employee for seeking compensation for his or her work-related injury or illness. In particular, Section 4(h) of the act reads that:
“It shall be unlawful for any employer, individually or through any insurance company or service adjustment company, to discharge or to threaten to discharge, … an employee because of the exercise of his or her rights or remedies granted to him or her by this Act.” 820 ILCS 305/4(h)
The Act also prohibits any discrimination, reassignment, restrain, and/or coercion of the employee for seeking reimbursement under its provisions for injuries or illness sustained at work.
Nevertheless, it is worth mentioning that unfortunately, not all employers are strictly following the law and can fire their employees who file a Workers’ Compensation Claim. Just because it is illegal does not mean that it never happens. However, if this happens, the employee can file a claim based in retaliatory discharge or wrongful discharge against the employer and seek damages in civil court.
Eames Law Group, Ltd. never stops fighting for our clients, and we will aggressively push cases to trial in order to obtain justice when insurance companies attempt to trample on the rights of our clients. If an insurance company has denied your work comp claim or refused to pay work comp benefits, you owe it to yourself to contact one of the best work comp attorneys in Chicago, Brent Eames, to discuss your rights. If you have been injured, you should immediately contact Brent Eames for a free consultation to discuss your options.
The content of this blog is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute or establish an attorney-client relationship, nor constitute legal advice. If you wish to discuss any further aspect of the material contained herein, please contact an attorney at Eames Law Group, Ltd.