Can I Be Fired for Filing a Workers' Compensation Claim?
Work-related injuries are a common occurrence in many different types of jobs and career fields. Even a seemingly minor accident can result in serious and potentially permanent health issues which can impact your ability to work or to engage in activities you once enjoyed. The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Program provides benefits to help injured workers, including paying for hospital and medical expenses as well as reimbursing them for lost wages. Unfortunately, some workers may be leery of reporting their injuries or filing a claim for fear of losing their job. If you have suffered on-the-job injuries, it is important to be aware of your rights to benefits, as well as the laws in place to prevent your employer from firing you as the result of your injury or in retaliation for filing for benefits.
Protection against Retaliatory Firing
Workers who are injured in the course of their employment have the right to seek workers’ compensation benefits without fear of being fired, demoted, or disciplined by their employer. While South Carolina is a ‘work at will’ state, meaning that employees can be fired for any reason or even no reason at all, section 41-1-80 of the South Carolina Labor and Employment Laws strictly prohibits employers from firing or otherwise retaliating against a worker who files a workers’ compensation claim, or even one who testifies on behalf of another employee in their workers’ compensation case. Employers who do take adverse actions against an employee can be held legally liable for damages in a civil lawsuit, and could end up having to pay the costs for lost wages suffered by the employee.
Your Rights to a Safe Workplace: Whistleblower Laws and Protections
According to the non-profit advocacy group Workplace Fairness, employees are not only protected when filing or testifying in workers’ compensation claims but are also protected from retaliation for reporting unsafe conditions or for refusing to perform work that is in violation of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards or illegal. Statutory laws protecting workers’ rights in the workplace despite to at will doctrine include the following:
- Anti-discrimination laws, listed under S.C. Code Ann. § 1-13-80(F).
- Occupational health and safety Laws, listed under S.C. Code Ann. § 41-15-510.
- Public employee laws, listed under S.C. Code Ann. § 8-27-30.
To file a whistleblower complaint or protest retaliation on the job, you can file a claim with the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission (SCHAC) or file a wrongful discharge suit for damages.
Reach Out to Us for Assistance
If you or someone you care about has been wrongfully terminated due to filing a workers; compensation claim or for reporting unsafe conditions, contact Anastopoulo Law Firm immediately. Our experienced South Carolina workers’ compensation attorneys can advise you on the best course of action in your particular case, while assisting you in getting the compensation and benefits you need.