Injured employees are often reluctant to file workers’ compensation claims because they fear that their employers will retaliate against them. They wonder, “Will I get fired if I file a workers’ compensation claim?”
The short answer is no. In Illinois, it is illegal for employers to terminate employees for filing workers’ compensation claims. Employers who do so could be subject to lawsuits for retaliatory discharge. While these types of suits address violations of workers’ compensation law, retaliatory discharge actions are not pursued through the workers’ compensation system. Instead, they are common law causes of action that are filed in civil court.
In order to protect your right to pursue a retaliatory discharge cause of action, however, the following conditions must be met:
- Wrongful Discharge vs. Firing – Firing an employee simply means ending the employment relationship. Wrongfully discharging an employee means that the person is fired in violation of anti-discrimination or anti-retaliation laws. To file a retaliatory discharge lawsuit, you must prove wrongful discharge.
- Claim Must Be Filed Formally – To protect yourself from retaliatory action by your employer, it is not enough to notify your employer about a work-related injury. You must also file your workers’ compensation claim formally with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. If you do not, your employer can dismiss you at any time without fear of a lawsuit, even if you have an open insurance claim and have been receiving medical treatment and temporary total disability pay.
How Can I Protect Myself from Employer Retaliation?
Getting hurt on the job does not necessarily mean that your rights – or your job – will be preserved. You must follow the proper procedures to protect yourself from being fired or from other forms of employer retaliation, ideally with the help of an experienced attorney, such as the Chicago workers’ compensation attorneys at GWC Injury Lawyers.
With offices throughout the state and over $2 billion recovered for our clients, GWC is Illinois’ largest Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury law firm.