Anyone injured at work can experience the fear of retaliation from their employer. Filing for workers’ compensation should be a simple process, but that doesn’t mean that employers don’t try to complicate matters. Many essential regulations on both a state and federal level can determine if an employer can terminate an injured employer. In North Carolina the most straightforward answer of the question is no, you cannot be fired for filing a claim. However, there are many other nuances to consider.
What is the North Carolina Retaliatory Discharge Act (REDA)?
REDA or the North Carolina Retaliatory Discharge Act works to prevent an employer in NC from retaliating against an employee. REDA prevents an employer from outright firing, demoting, suspending, or forcing an employee to relocate for reasons of retaliation. They do look at specific activities, or “protected activities” such as:
- Work-related injuries
- Workplace safety compliance
- Mine safety and health standards
- Presence of sickle cell
- National Guard duty
- Activity within the Juvenile justice system
- A domestic violence restraining order
- Exposure to pesticide
- Reports of activities under the Paraphernalia Control Act
You can file a REDA claim at the NC Department of Labor. You must file the claim within 180 days from the date of your employer’s retaliation. The NC Department of Labor will take the claim and open an investigation. During that investigation, they will either address the claim of retaliation or provide you with a “right to sue.” That letter allows you to take your claims to court where a judge will hear your case and possibly award damages. Damages can include lost benefits, economic losses, triple damages, lost wages, and even your attorney’s fees.
However, REDA cannot work proactively. They can’t stop a company from filing an employee. Many employers claim that the termination wasn’t because of the workers’ compensation claim, but because of an inability to work. As a “right to work” state, North Carolina has limited restriction controlling the behaviors of employers. They can fire an employee for any reason and in some cases, for no reason at all. In the absence of regulation, a company can fire an employee who had an on-the-job injury.
The rule to follow is that unless there’s a particular issue or regulation, then an employer can fire their employee. The overarching regulations on a federal level state that an employer cannot terminate employment for race, religion, sex, color, age, disability, or other civil rights. REDA provides strict limitations within North Carolina to protect injured workers with public policy. In some cases, even the Family Medical Leave Act can provide some protection.
How Can A Lawyer Help with a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Working with a North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer can help you manage your claim. Employees who are hurt at work often want to pursue a workers’ compensation claim but don’t know if it will put their job in jeopardy. It’s a reasonable and well-placed concern. Hiring an attorney will provide you with an extra layer of protection to ensure that you’re not a victim of retaliation.
It should go without saying that after an on-the-job injury, you shouldn’t have to fear losing your position. The North Carolina workers’ compensation regulations provide protection for employees. However, they can’t stop employers from acting out. The laws work to ensure that the injured workers can access compensation for medical care and their lost wages. Work with an attorney to fight past the pressure that some employers place on their staff. Always consult an attorney if your employer is putting pressure on you not to file a claim.
Contact an NC Workers’ Compensation Lawyer at Ted A. Greve & Associates
Workers’ compensation claims should not put people at risk of losing their job. Still, there are events every day that lead people to believe that it’s in their best interest to not file a claim. It seems that workers’ compensation attorneys are the only ones looking out for the victims of on the job accidents.
If you were hurt at work, don’t waste hours trying to work through the pain. And don’t miss work without getting some form of compensation. You need medical attention and rest if you hope to make an actual recovery. If you simply return to work and ignore your bodies demands for medical intervention, it will only get worse.
Contact Ted A. Greve & Associates for guidance on how to protect yourself from retaliation after an on the job injury. An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can provide insight into your claim, benefits, and possibilities of retaliation. Remember that workers’ compensation should work to protect you, but that doesn’t mean every employer plays by the rules.