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There are many misconceptions about workers’ compensation law in North Carolina. One of the major ones is that if a person files a workers’ compensation claim, that they are in fact suing their boss. This also gives rise to the idea that an employer can take action against a worker for filing a claim.

In truth, a workers’ compensation claim is not a lawsuit against an employer. This is simply an insurance claim against a policy that most North Carolina workplaces are required to purchase. In addition, it is illegal for an employer to retaliate in any way against a worker who files a claim.

This creates a private cause of action for an employee to sue their employer in court. It also exposes the workplace to an investigation by the North Carolina Industrial Commission. An accomplished attorney could help people to understand their rights and how to pursue claims involving employer retaliation in Wilmington workers’ compensation cases.

What Acts Constitute Employer Retaliation?

In short, retaliation is any adverse action taken by an employer against an employee who has exercised their rights as a worker. The filing of a workers’ compensation claim is certainly contained within this definition. North Carolina Law §95-241 specifically states that it is against the law for any workplace to retaliate against any worker who exercises these rights.

Common examples of these retaliatory actions include:

  • Termination
  • Transfer to another department or location
  • Change of work schedule
  • Reduction in hours
  • Change in work duties
  • Harassment

Not only are these actions illegal, but they give people a cause of action to sue their employers in court with the help of a dedicated personal injury lawyer.

What Recourse do People Have When they Experience Workplace Retaliation?

The first step that people should consider is to file a complaint with the state. The state can conduct an independent investigation and take appropriate measures to punish the employer. However, North Carolina’s Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act (REDA) allows employees to directly sue their employers in court.

These cases can demand monetary compensation that results from any sort of retaliatory action taken against them as a result of them exercising their rights. It is the burden of the plaintiff in these cases to prove to a jury that the employer acted the way that they did because of the filing of a workers’ compensation claim. It can be difficult to collect direct evidence of employer retaliation in Wilmington workers’ compensation cases, and claims often hinge on circumstantial evidence and third-party accounts of what actually took place.

Employer Retaliation for Workers’ Compensation Claims is Illegal

Under no circumstance can an employer take any adverse action against a worker who files a claim for workers’ compensation. In fact, not only can this trigger an investigation by the state, but it allows an employee to sue their employer directly in court under the REDA. These suits can demand compensation for damages suffered in the workplace that are separate from any benefits offered by a workers’ compensation plan.

People should never be afraid to file a workers’ compensation claim. This does not involve a lawsuit, and even if the claim is contested, very few cases go to court. People may come to rely on these payments if they are injured on the job and should not be intimidated into making a claim.

If you have experienced employer retaliation in Wilmington workers’ compensation cases, you may have a separate claim for damages. Contact an attorney today to discuss your case.