An injured worker who is unable to carry out his or her job duties will need to spend time at home recuperating and healing from his or her injuries. During this time, it could happen that an employer decides to terminate the employee. This is completely unlawful in most cases and the terminated employee may be able to file a wrongful termination and/or discrimination complaint against the employer.
Under the New Jersey workers' compensation law, NJSA 34:15-39.1, employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who file workers' compensation claims. They are also prohibited from retaliating against employees who testify at workers' compensation hearings.
New Jersey employees who suspect that they have lost their jobs because they submitted a workers' compensation claim may want to consider submitting a discrimination complaint against their workplaces via the New Jersey Division of Workers' Compensation.
If successfully navigating a workers' compensation discrimination complaint will ensure the restoration of a workers' job, and the payment of lost wages. However, the worker needs to be able to carry out the primary job duties of the position in order to qualify for such a remedy. For more information about the specific statute, workers can refer to NJAC 12:235-9.1. In addition, the Americans with Disabilities Act is also available to protect workers who were not terminated due to filing a workers' compensation claim but instead terminated simply because of their disability.
New Jersey workers and their families who have been negatively affected by retaliation and/or discrimination relating to a workers' compensation filing need to know that they are protected from this kind of treatment. Indeed, injured workers have the right to compensation under the law, and they should never be afraid to assert those rights out of fear of losing their jobs.
Source: Department of Labor and Workforce Development, "Frequently Asked Questions," accessed Oct. 07, 2016