Can My Employer Fire Me for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Has an employer fired you, or taken other retaliatory action, because you filed a workers’ compensation claim? Or are you considering filing a North Carolina workers’ compensation claim but are worried about what your employer may do?
In North Carolina, an employer cannot legally fire you or take any other retaliatory action against you (such as demoting you or reducing your pay) for filing a workers’ compensation claim.
The Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act and Workers’ Compensation Claims
The Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act, otherwise known as “REDA,” protects employees from retaliation by their employers for protected actions. One of these protected actions is filing a workers’ compensation claim.
REDA specifically names the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act as a protected activity, and states that “Employers may not retaliate against employees who either file a claim or complaint, initiate any inquiry, investigation, inspection, proceeding or other action, or testify or provide information to any person with respect to any of the following activities [including filing a workers’ comp claim].”
According to REDA, “retaliatory actions” by employers include:
- Discharge (firing)
- Reduction in wages
- Retaliatory relocation
So, in summary, no — an employer cannot legally fire you for filing a workers’ compensation claim in North Carolina.
How to File a REDA Complaint
If your employer has fired or retaliated against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim (or for engaging in another protected action), the North Carolina Department of Labor (NCDOL) encourages you to follow these steps:
- Call the Employment Discrimination Bureau (REDB) Information Officer and inquire about the situation
- If appropriate, a complaint form and instructions will be sent to you by the Bureau
- You must complete the form by describing the complaint in writing and signing
- You must file the completed and signed complaint with the REDB within 180 days of the date of the last retaliatory or discriminatory act
Once a complaint is filed, an investigation will be opened and the REDB will make a decision based on the evidence.
Result of a “No Merit” Finding
If the REDB determines that the employer’s actions do not violate the REDA act, or that there is insufficient evidence, it will issue a “No Merit” finding. In this case, the complainant is entitled to file a civil lawsuit, which must be filed no later than 90 days after receiving a “Right-to-Sue” letter from the REDB.
Result of a “Merit” Finding
If, however, the REDB determines that the employer DID violate the REDA act concerning your workers’ compensation application or another protected action (a “Merit” finding), a number of actions may be taken:
- The NC Department of Labor will attempt to remedy the violation through non-legal means, including conference, conciliation, and/or persuasion
- The Commissioner of Labor may file a civil lawsuit in Superior Court on behalf of the complainant
- The complainant may be given a “Right to Sue” letter entitling them to file a civil lawsuit in Superior Court no later than 90 days after the date of the Right-to-Sue letter
“My employer retaliated against me for filing a workers’ compensation claim and the REDB issued a ‘Merit’ finding. What now?”
If you’ve been fired or otherwise retaliated against by your employer for filing a workers’ compensation claim (or some other protected action), and the REDB determines that your complaint is of merit, the following remedies may be available, depending on the circumstances:
- An injunction to stop the violation of REDA
- Reinstatement of the complainant to the same position held before the retaliatory or discriminatory action, or to an equivalent position
- Reinstatement of full wages, fringe benefits, and seniority rights
- Compensation for lost wages, lost benefits, and other economic losses that may have been caused by the retaliatory or discriminatory action
Additionally, if a court determines that an employer willfully violated REDA in retaliating or discriminating against an employee filing a workers’ comp claim (or engaging in another protected action), it may triple the compensation awarded for economic losses. The employer (defendant) may also be required to pay attorney fees and other reasonable costs incurred by the complainant to bring the action.
For more information regarding workers’ compensation claims in North Carolina, please visit our workers’ comp FAQ page.
Have You Been Retaliated Against for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim, or Are You Seeking Workers’ Comp?
Our experienced North Carolina workers’ comp lawyers can help. Our work injury team is led by two Board-Certified Specialists in Workers’ Compensation law — attorneys Chris Brantley and Adam Smith.
For a FREE consultation with an experienced North Carolina work injury lawyer, please call 1-800-525-7111 or complete the fast and easy form below.
There is never any obligation and we don’t get paid unless you do. If we don’t recover workers’ compensation benefits for you, you won’t pay any attorney fees. It’s as simple as that.
Call 1-800-525-7111 today and let’s review your claim. Even if your employer has retaliated against you for filing a claim, you still have legal options — and we would love to help you get the workers’ comp benefits you need and deserve.
In cases involving long-term disability, our Social Security disability lawyers can assist with those claims, as well.
Millions Recovered for Injured Workers
In decades serving injured workers in North Carolina, our firm has recovered millions of dollars in compensation for deserving clients, including a recent $2.475 million settlement secured on behalf of a welder who suffered disabling injuries in a fall from a platform while on the job (see disclaimer below).
In another recent case, attorney Gene Riddle recovered $1.8 million on behalf of a truck driver who suffered severe injuries, including the eventual loss of his left leg below the knee, in a terrible truck accident while on the job (see disclaimer below).
“It was nice to see Riddle & Brantley put me and my needs first.”
–R. Colley, Riddle & Brantley client
For a FREE, no-obligation consultation with an experienced workers’ comp attorney and Board-Certified Specialist, please call 1-800-525-7111.
No win, no fee. That’s our promise to you.
Call Riddle & Brantley today at 1-800-525-7111 and let’s see how we can help.
Justice Counts for injured North Carolina workers.
*** Disclaimer: The results mentioned are intended to illustrate the type of cases handled by the firm. These results do not guarantee a similar outcome, and they should not be construed to constitute a promise or guarantee of a particular result in any particular case. Every case is different, and the outcome of any case depends upon a variety of factors unique to that case.