You have every legal right to file a workers compensation claim when you are injured during the course of performing the duties of your job. Unfortunately, harassment after filing is not uncommon, and is sometimes difficult to prove.
What is Workplace Harassment?
Harassment comes in many forms, both blatant and subtle. It can come from your management or coworkers. Harassment can present itself as name calling, teasing, being given undesirable work assignments, not being informed of schedule changes then being written up for tardiness, having your personal property damaged, and even being physically harmed. Harassment can also come in the form of retaliation, which is the act of management taking adverse action against an employee for filing a workers compensation claim. This can take the form of sexual harassment, demotion, being denied promotion or even termination.
Is Workplace Harassment Illegal?
Federal workplace laws mandated by the U.S. Department of Labor specifically prohibit harassment of injured employees returning to work after filing for workers compensation. Most states also have similar laws. All laws require that the employee notify the employer of the harassment.
What Should You Do If You are Being Harassed?
If you have filed a workers compensation claim and are being harassed, you need to keep a written, recorded or photo record of each incident. In this record include:
- Dates and times of the incidents
- The nature and details of the incidents
- The persons involved
- Statements of any eyewitnesses who will corroborate the claims
Statements by eye witnesses must be signed, and make sure they are willing to testify if needed. Preserve all written forms of harassment, including notes, emails or any other written communication, such as messages scrawled on walls or lockers.
When Should You Report the Harassment?
Report the harassment to your employer in person and in writing as soon as it occurs. It is always best if the employer acts quickly to stop it in its tracks. Tell your employer that you are keeping records and intend to seek legal assistance if it does not cease. If it continues, keep reporting it in person and in writing. This will be very important to proving your case in court, should the need arise.
It is your employer's legal duty to provide a safe workplace where employees are treated equitably and respectfully. If you feel you are being illegally harassed due to filing a workers compensation claim, you should contact an attorney who is experienced in this area of law. There are many precedents where courts have upheld these types of claims and your attorney can advise you of what your next steps should be. For more information, go to http://www.lshlaw.com.