Retaliation After Filing a Workers' Comp Claim in California

It’s illegal in most states, including California, to retaliate against employees for filing a workers’ comp claim.

By , Attorney (University of San Francisco School of Law)
Updated by E.A. Gjelten, Legal Editor

If your employer has docked your pay, cut your hours, given you less desirable assignments, or otherwise made your job more difficult because you filed a workers' compensation claim, it has committed illegal retaliation.

What Is Workplace Retaliation?

Workplace retaliation means your employer has effectively punished you for exercising a legally protected right, such as reporting a health and safety issue, complaining about a wage and hour violation, or trying to form a labor union.

In California, like in most states, it's also illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee for filing a workers' comp claim. Employers cannot fire, threaten to fire, discipline, or otherwise discriminate against employees because they've applied for workers' comp benefits.

Retaliation or Legitimate Business Decision?

At the same time, employers may continue to run their businesses and take personnel actions based on legitimate business reasons. If your employer has taken an adverse employment action against you, the key question is whether this action was for a legitimate business reason or in retaliation for your workers' comp claim.

If you were having performance problems at work before your injuries, or if the company was cutting back hours for other employees, that might be evidence that your employer is acting for legitimate reasons. But if you haven't had performance issues and you're the only one whose hours are being reduced, it starts to look like you're being singled out because you applied for workers' comp.

Consult a Workers' Comp Attorney

Because the legal penalties for retaliation can be expensive, your employer and its insurance company will no doubt do everything they can to prove that your supervisor had a legitimate business reason to cut your hours. So now would be a good time to speak with a workers' comp lawyer, if you haven't already done so. An attorney who's experienced in this area of the law can look at your situation, determine whether there's evidence of retaliation, and help you gather the kind of proof needed to support your claim.

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