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Can an employer punish me for filing a claim?

You can’t blame employers for discouraging you from filing a workers’ compensation claim. It costs them money, and may require finding a replacement for you or creating an accommodation for you.

But as unhappy as they may be, they are forbidden from retaliating against you – not by federal law, not even by Colorado statute, but by common law asserted by our court system.

What constitutes retaliation?

They fire you. In court this may be called wrongful termination or discharge in violation of public policy. It will cause the employer a much bigger headache than paying on your original claim.

They demote you. It is wrong to lower your job description, assign you lesser responsibilities, or cut your pay. The classic example would be to transfer you from the Denver office to Greenland.

They deny you rightful promotion. They are not allowed to punish you by blacklisting you from promotion.

They make your life miserable.They may not assign you to a less appealing job or to work that does not suit you. These are sometimes known as unwarranted disciplinary actions. Example: you are a receptionist and you are told from now on you will be unloading trucks.

These rules assume that you are an employee and that you acted in good faith when you filed your claim. If your claim is revealed as deceptive or fraudulent, the employer will likely terminate you.

But if your claim is legitimate, employers are expressly forbidden from punishing you for filing.

As always, it is wise to talk to an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer if you have any doubts about your situation.

 

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