Workers’ compensation, sometimes called “workman’s compensation,” provides wage-loss benefits, medical coverage, and other financial benefits for employees who were injured in workplace or work-related accidents. Unfortunately, employers sometimes retaliate against employees who exercise their rights to file a workers’ compensation claim, often by demoting or even firing the worker. However, state and federal laws prohibit employers in North Carolina from terminating an employee solely because he or she files a claim for workers’ compensation.
If you or your husband or wife was fired after filing a workers’ comp claim in North Carolina, you should discuss the situation with an experienced workman’s comp wrongful termination lawyer as soon as possible. Your employer may have broken the law, and you could be entitled to receive financial compensation. To confidentially discuss a wrongful discharge related to a work injury claim in North Carolina, contact the Ramsay Law Firm online, or call (704) 376-1616 for a free consultation. We represent injured workers throughout the Charlotte area.
Is it Legal for My Employer to Fire Me Because I Filed a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
The short answer to this question is no: employers are prohibited from terminating employees just because the employee files a workers’ comp claim. This prohibition stems from a state law called the North Carolina Retaliatory Discharge Act, or REDA. Under REDA, it is generally unlawful for an employer to fire (discharge), demote, or suspend an employee in retaliation for making a workplace accident claim.
Like workers’ compensation claims themselves, REDA claims are subject to firm deadlines. Your REDA claim must be filed no later than 180 days, which is slightly less than six months, from the date on which you were fired, suspended, or demoted by your employer. Your workers’ compensation retaliation attorney will handle preparing and submitting your REDA claim for you.
Once filed, your REDA claim will be reviewed by the North Carolina Department of Labor (DOL). If the DOL determines that your employer broke the law and violated your rights under REDA, it may grant you the right to sue your employer in court. As the plaintiff, you will carry the “burden of proof,” which means that you will need to present evidence proving that you were the victim of an “adverse employment action,” such as termination or demotion. At the Ramsay Law Firm, we have seen numerous claims in which injured workers were wrongfully discharged in retaliation for seeking workmans’ comp, and routinely work with attorneys who are well-prepared to execute forceful, proven legal strategies to demonstrate that your legal rights were violated by the company you worked for.
If you can show that the business violated REDA and fired you due to your claim, you may be awarded various “damages,” or types of compensation. This may include financial compensation for wages and earnings you lost due to the termination, as well as attorney fees.
While REDA protects employees against workers’ comp-related retaliation, these cases can become complicated due to at-will employment laws, underscoring the importance of aggressive legal representation. Like most U.S. states, North Carolina is an “at-will employment” state, which means that employers generally have the legal right to terminate any employee, at any time, for any reason, as long as that reason does not violate state or federal anti-discrimination employment laws. For example, at-will employment rules do not allow an employer to fire an employee solely because of gender or race, which is prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. However, an employer is generally free to terminate an employee who cannot perform the necessary work. Therefore, if a workplace accident disables the victim so severely that he or she cannot perform any work, the employee could be lawfully terminated. However, the employee could not be terminated just because he or she filed a workers’ compensation claim.
Our Charlotte Workmans’ Comp Lawyers Can Help with Your Wrongful Termination Claim
If you suspect that you or your spouse was terminated, suspended, demoted, or maliciously relocated due to a workplace injury claim, you should talk about your situation with an experienced workers’ comp attorney as soon as possible. You may be able to recover compensation for the financial losses your employer caused by firing or demoting you. However, you have only 180 days from the date you were fired to take action against your employer by filing a REDA claim. If you miss the filing deadline, your claim will be rejected, which will prevent you from receiving damages.
Do not wait to take action if you think that your rights were violated in retaliation for a workplace injury. Your employer does not have the right to “punish you” or “get revenge” solely because you sought benefits for an on-the-job injury. If this describes your situation, our legal team is ready to help. For a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced workers’ comp lawyer in Charlotte, North Carolina, contact our law offices online, or call the Ramsay Law Firm at (704) 376-1616.