Will a Workers’ Comp Claim Affect My Future Employment?
No, having a workers’ compensation claim and injury should not affect your future employment at the same employer or a new employer. Illinois law protects employees from retaliation and discrimination for exercising their rights under the IL Workers’ Compensation Act.
Section 4(h) states: It shall be unlawful for any employer, insurance company or service or adjustment company to interfere with, restrain or coerce an employee in any manner whatsoever in the exercise of the rights or remedies granted to him or her by this Act or to discriminate, attempt to discriminate, or threaten to discriminate against an employee in any way because of his or her exercise of the rights or remedies granted to him or her by this Act.
It shall be unlawful for any employer, individually or through any insurance company or service or adjustment company, to discharge or to threaten to discharge, or to refuse to rehire or recall to active service in a suitable capacity an employee because of the exercise of his or her rights or remedies granted to him or her by this Act.
How Section 4(h) Protects You
It means that your employer cannot retaliate against and fire you for reporting a work-related injury. It also means that an employer cannot retaliate against and fire you for seeking medical treatment or hiring an attorney. Once you have recovered from your injury and are back to work, the employer cannot retaliate against and fire you for the injury.
If your employer does terminate you for exercising your rights, you need to seek legal counsel immediately. You should also file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission right away. There are strict time limitations to file the EEOC complaint, so do not delay.
When Section 4(h) Does Not Apply
Section 4(h) does not mean that an employer can never fire you while you have a pending workers’ compensation claim. Suppose there is some basis to terminate you, other than retaliation or discrimination. In that case, they may be able to terminate you even if you are off work for a work-related injury.
In some circumstances, your employment status may be protected under the Family Medical Leave Act for up to 12 weeks. This means they cannot terminate you simply because you are off on medical leave during the protected period.
However, they could do so if they have some other legitimate basis for terminating you. For example, if your employer discovers that you were stealing from the company while you are off work, they may have grounds to terminate you.
When to Seek Professional Legal Support
If your job is under threat, or if you are worried about the security of your job, you should seek legal counsel. An attorney can advise you of your rights and obligations and make sure the employer knows what will happen if they violate the law. So if you are worried, get an attorney right away!
To recap, Section 4(h) prohibits your current employer from retaliating against or firing you for filing a workers’ compensation case. It also prohibits future employers from using the fact that you had a workers’ compensation case against you when deciding whether to offer you employment or not.
If you feel that you are being denied a job because of a past workers’ compensation case, please seek legal counsel immediately. You must act quickly to pursue your rights. Call Black & Jones Attorneys at Law at (815) 967-9000 or fill out the form for your free consultation here.