Workers’ compensation is a benefit that provides financial support and medical assistance to employees who sustain work-related injuries or illnesses. However, one common concern among employees is whether their employer can terminate their employment after filing a workers’ compensation claim.
Here are the rights and protections employees have under North Carolina law when it comes to employment security following a workers’ compensation claim.
Understanding employment protection laws in North Carolina
In North Carolina, employees have certain safeguards in place to prevent unfair termination or retaliation after filing a workers’ compensation claim. The Workers’ Compensation Act prohibits employers from terminating or discriminating against employees solely because they exercise their right to seek benefits for a workplace injury or illness.
Prohibited retaliation: Protecting employee rights
It is important to note that filing a workers’ compensation claim does not provide absolute immunity from termination. However, an employer cannot retaliate against an employee solely based on their workers’ compensation claim. This means that an employer cannot terminate an employee or take adverse employment actions, such as demotion or reduced hours, as a direct response to the filing of a claim.
Legitimate reasons for termination
While North Carolina law provides protection against retaliatory actions, employers can still terminate employees for legitimate reasons unrelated to the workers’ compensation claim. For instance, if an employee violates company policies, engages in misconduct or demonstrates poor job performance, the employer may have grounds for termination. It is essential to differentiate between a legitimate termination and one that is retaliatory in nature.
If an employee believes they have been wrongfully terminated or faced adverse employment actions due to their workers’ compensation claim, they have the right to pursue legal recourse. To establish retaliation, the employee must demonstrate a causal connection between the workers’ compensation claim and the adverse employment action taken by the employer. To do this, the employee can present evidence, such as timing, witness statements or documented retaliatory behavior.
While filing a workers’ compensation claim does not grant absolute job security, North Carolina law provides important protections against retaliation and unfair termination. Employees have the right to seek benefits for workplace injuries or illnesses without the fear of losing their jobs.