Under the laws of the state of New York, your employer is required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance to cover the costs of paying you benefits in the event of a work-related injury. The amount of the premium is based on the number of claims paid out on behalf of your employer. Accordingly, the fewer claims the workers’ compensation insurer has to honor for your employer, the smaller the expense. Unfortunately, that can be an incentive for your employer to retaliate against you by terminating your employment. Is that legal? What are your rights when that happens?
Under New York’s workers’ compensation laws, employers are specifically prohibited from discharging, disciplining or imposing work sanctions on a worker because he or she filed a workers’ compensation claim. Your employer cannot deny you a raise or promotion, give you undesirable work assignments, deny you benefits available to other workers in similar jobs with similar experience or even reassign you because you made a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. That’s the law.
The reality, though, is that it can be extremely difficult to prove that your boss’s actions were punishment for filing the work comp claim, particularly if there are other legitimate reasons that can be given for your termination.
So what can you do? If you are covered by a union contract, you should contact your union representative and seek assistance. You may also be a party to an employment agreement. If so, hire an attorney and carefully review the terms of the agreement—you may have a claim for breach of contract. A less attractive option, but one that can buy you some time, is to ask for your rightful leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)—it’s unpaid, but your employer is required to hold your job for you.
At Pyrros & Serres LLP, we handle all matters related to workers’ compensation and Social Security disability claims for people in Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx and across the greater New York City metropolitan area. Because of our reputation for effective advocacy, many of our new clients come to us as referrals from clients and other lawyers.
To learn more about the full scope of our practice, see our practice area overview page.