Workers’ rights after a job-related injury have repeatedly been protected by both state and national laws. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) calls the reporting of a work-related injury or illness a “core employee right,” and yet, many work injuries go unreported every year. Why? One common reason is the injured worker’s fear of employer retaliation. A study from the legal website FindLaw reported that as many as 10 percent of employees fail to report injuries to their employers because of concerns about employer retaliation.
National and state laws specifically make employer retaliation illegal in Ohio, but both real-life examples and the fear of these occurrences can be discouraging to injured workers. In some cases, workers may not even realize that the negative consequences they experience are considered retaliation.
What Is Employer Retaliation in Ohio?
Retaliation is defined as harming another person as revenge for harm done to you. In workers’ compensation situations, it implies that employers are angry for having to pay workers’ compensation benefits to an injured employee or the increased premiums that may result from a legitimate claim, so they make the employee’s work life more difficult, less fruitful, or non-existent. Workplace retaliation can take many forms, including:
- Denial of a promotion
- Reduction in pay
- Reduction in hours
- Threats or intimidation
- Denial of overtime work
- Unfair poor performance reviews
Recognizing Employer Retaliation and What to Do Next
At times, it can be difficult to determine if your employer’s actions are simply a normal part of business or retaliation for your claim. Sometimes, the acts are subtle—exclusion from certain meetings, increased supervision, sudden questioning of job performance. Illegal retaliation occurs only when the actions of the employer or manager have a negative effect on a worker’s employment.
If you suspect you are a victim of retaliation, it is important to take action as soon as possible. Speak to your employer and ask direct questions about the changed behavior. They may have legitimate answers to your concerns. If they do not, you can express your worry about retaliation and point out the improper behavior.
Documenting Ohio Workers’ Compensation Claim Retaliation
If workplace retaliation does occur and voicing your concerns offers no remedy, it may be necessary to pursue legal action against your employer. An experienced Ohio workers’ compensation attorney can help you understand your rights during this time. To help your case, the most important thing to do is document your situation as fully as possible. Gather or keep copies of:
- The injury report and workers’ compensation claim. The injury and subsequent benefits claim is at the heart of a retaliation claim. It will offer key information about the date, time, and situation that led to your injury, as well as detail which supervisors were involved right from the start.
- Correspondence from your employer. Emails and notes from both before and after the work injury can show the change in your employer’s approach to your work.
- Performance reviews. Similarly, performance reviews from both before and after your injury can serve to display the difference in your employer’s attitude toward you and your work.
- Correspondence from co-workers. Your co-workers may notice the retaliation and comment on it, or they may share things they hear from your supervisors. In either case, this can be used as evidence to support your claim that your employer’s behavior is purposeful and detrimental.
- Notices of demotion, hours reduction or termination. These notices often provide details of why your employer decided to change the status of your employment; they may help to document the unfounded reasons for the actions and provide a framework for proving the retaliatory behavior. At the very least, the notices will provide basic information, such as dates and times.
- Your own notes. While your own notes may not always be concrete evidence appropriate for court, it can help you keep your memory fresh and establish a pattern of behavior.
It is true that most Ohio employers do not engage in this type of behavior, and workers should not ignore an injury out of fear of retaliation. However, workers’ compensation claim retaliation does occur. When it does, workers have rights that can be protected. At Monast Law Office, our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys have the experience and knowledge to help you and your family. Even if you are not sure if your employer’s behavior constitutes retaliation, call our Upper Arlington office today. We offer free, no-obligation consultations where we can answer your questions and help you make the best decision going forward.