Employees who sustain on-the-job injuries should feel comfortable reporting those injuries and seeking workers’ compensation benefits. Workers should not ever need to worry about being retaliated against by an employer for reports of their injury or for pursuing a claim for the benefits that they deserve.
When an employer takes adverse employment action against a worker because the worker has reported injuries, this is illegal under Georgia law. An Atlanta workers’ compensation attorney at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. can provide assistance to workers in getting their injury benefits and in pursuing a claim for additional compensation if they were the victim of retaliation on the part of an employer.
Employers Face Serious Consequences for Retaliation Against Workers
Safety News Alert recently reported on an employer who attempted to retaliate against an injured worker. The employer, the second-largest freight railroad in the United States, was ordered to reinstate the worker it had retaliated against. Not only did the employer need to hire the worker back, but the railroad was also ordered to pay him $536,063. This includes back pay, damages, and fees for attorney representation.
The incident arose after the employee sustained a knee injury in November of 2010. The worker reported the injury to his employer, as he is required to do to obtain work injury benefits. In February of 2011, the employee subsequently filed a Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA) anti discrimination complaint with OSHA.
In August of 2011, the railroad fired the worker. This action was seen as a retaliatory action in violation of federal laws providing protection to whistleblowers. OSHA pursued a case against the employer because complaints of retaliation are taken very seriously. The administrator of OSHA’s regional office in the area indicated: “Retaliatory actions can discourage other workers from speaking up, which may result in an unsafe work environment.”
Because the railroad was found to have violated the rules, it entered into an agreement with OSHA to address the violations of whistleblower laws. The company agreed to change its disciplinary policies and procedures so injuries are not determinative of an employe’s probation period for a serious violation of the rules. The company also eliminated a workplace policy assigning points to employees who got hurt on-the-job, and agreed to make settlement offers to 36 other workers who also filed whistleblower complaints alleging they were adversely impacted by the company’s illegal policies. Finally, the company agreed to implement a training program for managers and HR professionals so they could learn about their workplace responsibilities.
The injured worker who brought the retaliation to the attention of authorities was given his job back, compensated for back pay and damages, and had all disciplinary actions related to the injury removed from his record.
Employees need to protect their interests and speak out if an employer penalizes workers for reporting injuries or work safety violations. In any situation where an employer takes adverse action based on an injury, an employee should speak up as this railroad worker did to try to get full and fair compensation.
The Atlanta work accident lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. can represent you after an injury caused by your job tasks. Call today at (404) 814-8949 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.