Employees Shortchanged on Workers' Compensation

In the current economic downturn, employees injured on the job can be reluctant to file for workers' compensation. A recent study shows that many low-wage employees fear losing their jobs in retaliation for filing a workers' comp claim.

With a high unemployment rate casting a long shadow over people with jobs, a study of over 4,000 low-wage employees by the National Employment Law Project shows workers afraid of workplace reprisals if they report an injury or a labor law violation.

Of the studied workers who experienced a serious workplace injury, a mere eight percent filed a workers' compensation claim. When employees told their employer about the injury, half experienced improper or illegal employer reactions such as being fired or being instructed not to file for workers' compensation.

As the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in the 1988 case of Shick v. Shirey, Pennsylvania employers cannot fire employees simply for filing a workers' compensation claim. Unfortunately, even though the law is firmly on the side of injured employees, many people still fear reporting an on the job injury.

Some are concerned that they will be fired as a result of filing for workers' compensation, regardless of the legal prohibitions on such actions. In other cases employees fear retaliation that is more subtle than outright termination. An employee may be concerned that an employer will retaliate by withholding benefits, downgrading an employee's rating, denying deserved promotions or raises, and demotion.

The fact is, though, workers in Pennsylvania are entitled to a safe workplace. When someone is injured while working, that person should not have to face the consequences and the expenses of the injuries alone.

If you have suffered a workplace injury in Pennsylvania, the advice and representation of a knowledgeable workers' comp attorney can prove invaluable. To discuss your rights and options, contact an attorney today.