Almost 68,000 workplace injuries and illnesses were reported in North Carolina in 2021, and 179 were fatal. While some professions are more dangerous than others, workplace injuries can happen anywhere and to anyone and are costly. The impact of a workplace accident can be life-changing for the victim and their loved ones and cause serious financial strain if crucial benefits aren’t approved and accessed.
If you’re injured in the workplace, you may need to spend time in a hospital, take time off work, and endure weeks or months of rehabilitation. You may even have a permanent disability or suffer long-term health problems from a workplace accident, not to mention the possible psychological health effects. In the worst case, a workplace injury is fatal, and the worker’s family is left mourning someone they loved and depended on.
Those injured on the job rely on support from the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act (NCWCA). It provides financial coverage for medical bills, a percentage of wages if time off work is required, and disability benefits for those unable to return to work after a workplace accident.
Unfortunately, even when someone can access the benefits through NCWCA, some employers illegally retaliate when an injured employee files a workers’ compensation claim. While North Carolina laws make it illegal to fire an employee or retaliate in other ways in response to a workers’ comp claim, it happens far too often. To make matters worse, this type of employer retaliation occurs when the injured worker is vulnerable, overwhelmed, and trying to heal.
If you were fired after filing a North Carolina workers’ comp claim, the best step is to contact an attorney. Proving retaliation can be difficult, but with the help of a North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer, you can seek remedies and compensation for what happened. Our skilled team can help prove how your employer broke the law and hold them accountable for what they did.
North Carolina Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act
Employer retaliation following a workers’ compensation claim can come in many forms; you may be pressured to quit, disciplined unfairly, given poor performance reviews, demoted, passed over for promotions you deserve, threatened, or fired, all of which are illegal under the North Carolina Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act (REDA). REDA protects workers from employers that retaliate against them in several situations, including workplace safety and injuries.
How Can a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Help?
The fact is, companies have intentionally chosen to break North Carolina law by firing someone for filing a workers’ comp claim. If this has happened to you, consulting a North Carolina workers’ compensation attorney is essential because proving this type of wrongdoing isn’t easy. It’s also common for companies to intimidate injured workers, shift blame and outright lie about why they fired you, making the situation much more challenging.
Since employers have the right to terminate employees for valid reasons, even when they’re recovering from a workplace injury, proving you were fired for filing a workers’ comp claim can be difficult without legal help. After all, your employer isn’t going to admit to what they’ve done when they’ve taken the risk of breaking retaliation laws in the first place.
There are clear steps to proving a retaliatory firing. Once a workers’ compensation lawyer from our firm is on your side, we’ll begin building your case by doing the following:
Evidence is crucial to prove an employee was fired in retaliation. It requires a review of everything that happened to organize and build a timeline of facts, from the workplace accident to the termination of employment. Your lawyer can help collect relevant documents to support your retaliation claim, such as emails from supervisors or your boss and interview witnesses (coworkers). Witnesses are protected from being retaliated against for participating in these investigations.
It’s also important to create an overview of your relationship and job with your employer before the workplace injury. Doing this can help combat the possible reasons your employer claims they had to fire you.
File a REDA Complaint
Complaints to the North Carolina Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act must be filed within 180 days of the incident. Dealing with not only a workplace injury but your employer’s retaliation is overwhelming, yet it must be done properly. An employer retaliation lawyer can file a REDA complaint on your behalf, giving you the best chance of your complaint being validated. If it is, you can get much more compensation than standard workers’ comp coverage.
Are you wondering if you’re protected from the retaliation you’ve experienced under North Carolina law? Fill out this REDA complaint questionnaire.
Represent Your Interests
A skilled North Carolina workers’ comp attorney can protect your rights by attending meetings and dealing directly with those involved. They’ll represent your best interests and help fill out forms and paperwork. As employer retaliation attorneys with years of experience representing injured workers, we can help hold your employer responsible for their actions by handling communications with relevant parties throughout the process.
Determine the Value of Your Employer Discrimination Case
In general, the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act prevents employees from suing their employer if they’re injured on the job, but in some cases, like retaliation, you can. Determining the value of an employer discrimination case is highly individual and depends on several factors. A workers’ compensation lawyer can review the specifics of your situation, determine how much compensation should be sought, and help ensure your other rights are met.
When your REDA rights are violated because your employer fired you after filing a workers’ comp claim, you are entitled to several remedies in addition to workers’ comp coverage, including reinstatement of your job, benefits, and seniority. You may also seek financial compensation for any lost income and benefits during the time you were fired and for legal fees and expenses. Finally, you may be compensated with triple your financial losses if it’s deemed your employer willfully retaliated against you.
Fight Back Against Employer Retaliation
You deserve justice if you were in a North Carolina workplace accident and were fired after filing a workers’ compensation claim. The team at Whitley Law can fight on your behalf, alleviating the burden of dealing with an employer who will push back at every turn. Your focus should be on healing from your injuries.
Don’t try to negotiate by yourself or sign or agree to anything if your employer retaliates against you. It could prevent access to workers’ compensation benefits if you agree to a settlement or sign something that can be used against you.
In addition to being fired after filing a workers’ compensation claim in North Carolina, there are other challenges you may encounter that our firm can handle when you’re injured at work. Simply filing a claim can be confusing, but other difficulties, such as the insurance company denying your claim or delaying your checks, can also occur, but we’re here to help.
Call the Whitley Law Firm today at (800) 785-5000 or fill out our online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.
The Whitley Law Firm is a family affair—in all the ways that matter. Partner Ben Whitley works with his father and brother to create a formidable force when representing clients. After all, helping injured individuals—people who have the deck stacked against them when fighting corporations—is why the Whitleys got into the business in the first place.