When you have been injured in the workplace, you would hope that your employer does everything they can to help with your recovery. Some employers throw ‘get well soon’ parties and help you through the worker’s comp claim process. But some employers go entirely in the wrong direction. You may find yourself blamed for your own injury, or your employer may even try to harass you into not reporting or filing a worker’s compensation claim. This form of retaliation harassment is all because a claim will temporarily raise the employer’s insurance premium.
If you have found yourself in an increasingly tough situation of harassment in response to a worker’s compensation claim, you don’t have to sit and take it. These four tips will help you make a strong claim and defend yourself against the unlawful workplace harassment you are currently facing.
1) Get Copies of All Paperwork
Never walk away without a copy of the paperwork either in your hand or confirmed in your email inbox. One of the most common underhanded tricks for blocking an employee’s worker’s comp benefits or retaliating against them for filing is to fudge the paperwork.
No matter how much you trust one person, don’t give the company a chance to ‘lose’ an important document or write in what they want to be there after you have walked away. Keep copies of everything for your personal records. A refusal to let you keep copies is a big red flag.
2) Do Not Sign a No-Suit Agreement
Many employers, even good ones who are not planning to retaliate, will ask you to sign a contract that will prevent you from filing any grievance lawsuits relating to the worker’s compensation. While you might think this is a simple agreement not to sue for the injury itself, these contracts usually also are written to stop you from filing a complaint lawsuit if you are retaliated against after your injury and compensation request.
Do not sign any agreements that will limit your options in the future, even if your company says it is contingent on receiving your worker’s comp benefits. If they try to force the issue or deny you compensation, consult a lawyer.
3) Create Records of Any Threats or Unethical Suggestions
There are many different kinds of retaliation seen in response to worker’s compensation claims. Sometimes a professional is demoted and belittled after their injury, sometimes they are hounded in hopes that they will quit and forfeit the compensation claim. Sometimes they are simply threatened with a loss of job, salary, or duties if the injured employee chooses to move forward with their request for worker’s compensation.
If you experience any form of retaliation after your injury, in the process of filing, or after filing for worker’s compensation, take notes. Try to get things sent to you in email, written down, or even record conversations that you think will become hostile. While legally Minnesota is a one-party-consent state (meaning that if you are part of a conversation you can consent to the entire conversation being legally recorded), there are questions about a lawyer advising you to do so. Your lawyer will likely tell you to let the other party know the conversation is being recorded. In any case, be careful not to record other people’s conversations, as that is illegal and potentially criminal. Further, you cannot use a recording of your own conversations with others to commit fraud or blackmail.
4) Consult with an Employee Rights Attorney
Finally, if there is anything suspicious or hostile about your worker’s compensation process, don’t try to face down your entire employer company alone. An attorney who specialized in employee rights and worker’s compensation cases can help you pin down your employer to what they are legally obligated to provide you and hold them accountable for any harassment they choose to engage in.
When you choose to contact an attorney is entirely up to you, but we advise you to seek counsel the moment things get suspicious. Whether your employer tries to convince you not to report your injury at all, asks for suspicious legal agreements before you can file a claim, or begins trying to undermine your claim along the way, a worker’s compensation attorney will know how to navigate these hurdles, protect your rights, and help you attain the benefits you need to fully recover.
Contact Harvey & Carpenter in Mankato, Minnesota
You do not have to tolerate being harassed, threatened, demoted, or otherwise retaliated against after a workplace injury. With these steps and the help of a knowledgeable worker’s compensation attorney, you will be able to get the benefits and money you need to recover and return to your career.
For a personal consultation on your injury, situation, and the behavior of your employer please contact us today. We’re always ready to lend a helping hand and defend the rights of Minnesota employees.