Workplace accidents happen at an alarming rate despite an employer’s best safety practices, and they can result in serious consequences if you’re an injured employee. Medical treatment is costly, and the bills start rolling in at a time when you’re unable to work. In severe incidents, you may even be away from your job for some time. State laws are designed to protect you from this type of difficult situation, allowing employees to file a claim for benefits with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. Some employers don’t react to this too kindly, and may respond by engaging in retaliation tactics – possibly even firing an injured victim for pursuing his or her legal rights. If you’re facing retribution from your employer as a result of exercising your rights under workers’ compensation laws, it’s critical to discuss your situation with an attorney right away.
Illinois is an Employment At-Will State
Illinois follows the same general rule as many other states regarding employment, finding that an employer may fire a worker for any reason and at any time. This law is known as “employment at-will,” and it applies to all employees and employers. There are limited exceptions, such as where a valid employment agreement requires an employer to prove just cause to terminate a worker.
Workers’ Compensation System
Illinois requires the majority of employers to carry insurance policies to pay the claims of workers who are injured on the job. A victim can file a claim and, if approved, he or she will start receiving benefits right away.
Most employers comply with the workers’ compensation insurance requirement and don’t take issue when a worker files a claim for benefits. However, there are some that resent that employee and will take action to retaliate, such as by firing the person. Under the circumstances, another exception to the employment at-will doctrine applies: It is unlawful for an employer to terminate, threaten to fire, engage in intimidation tactics, or otherwise harass an employee on the basis of a workers’ compensation claim.
Employee Rights in Retaliation Cases
You may be able to recover compensation for retaliation, but you must establish a link between filing for workers’ compensation benefits and your employer’s actions. In some situations, the connection is obvious – such as where you were fired immediately after filing a claim. However, if the retaliation is subtle, like a job or hours change, more proof may be necessary.
Consult with a Chicago Workers Compensation Retaliation Lawyer Today
State law prohibits Illinois employers from engaging in retaliatory tactics after an employee files a workers’ compensation claim, but many companies still punish workers that take action. If you’ve been terminated or face other types of intimidation from your employer, you do have remedies to enforce your rights. However, these cases are complex and you’ll need an experienced lawyer to represent your interests. The attorneys at the Law Office of Mitchell A. Kline have represented many employees fighting against employer retaliation, so please contact our Chicago office for more information. We can tell you more about your options or schedule a consultation to discuss your case.