Discrimination against an employee who has sustained a work-related injury is illegal under several federal laws in the U.S. However, it is not uncommon for employers and co-workers to engage in this type of behavior. If that is the case, the injured employee may have legal recourse.
Discrimination after a work injury can come in various forms, commonly including the following:
When an employer treats an employee differently based on their work injury status. This can include actions such as denying promotions, giving lower pay, or firing the employee.
When an employer takes negative actions against an employee who has filed a workers’ compensation claim or requested an accommodation for their work injury. Retaliation can include demotion, termination, or other negative consequences.
When an employer or co-worker engages in unwelcome conduct based on the employee’s work injury status. Harassment can be anything from verbal abuse to physical assault, or other forms of mistreatment.
When an employer fails to provide reasonable accommodations to an employee with a work-related injury or disability. For example, modified work schedules, assistive technology, or other adjustments that enable the employee to perform their job duties.
When an employer or co-workers make negative assumptions about an employee’s abilities or commitment to work based on their work injury status. Negative stereotyping can lead to exclusion, harassment, and other forms of discrimination.
Here are a few steps that can help:
The first step in combating discrimination is to know your rights. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects individuals with disabilities, including those who have sustained work-related injuries, from discrimination in the workplace. This law requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities, such as modified work schedules or equipment, to help them perform their job duties.
The moment you suspect you are being discriminated against, document every incident as much as possible. Keep a record of any conversations, emails, or other interactions that may be relevant. This documentation can be helpful if you decide to file a complaint with your employer or take legal action.
Talk to your employer or HR representative about the situation and try to find a resolution. If that does not work, consider filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or seeking legal assistance.
Dealing with discrimination can be stressful and isolating. It can be helpful to seek out support from family, friends, or a support group. You may also want to consider speaking with a mental health professional to help you cope with the emotional impact of the discrimination.
Along with a work injury, discrimination can have long-lasting effects on an individual’s physical, emotional, and financial well-being. An experienced Orange County employment law attorney can advise you of your legal options and guide you through the claims process to ensure you recover a fair settlement or award.