Employees in North Carolina cannot be fired while on workers’ compensation without a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for the termination. When the motivation for the termination is the filing of a workers’ compensation claim, the worker has remedies under North Carolina’s Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act (REDA), North Carolina’s public policy, and the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). These state and federal laws work to create strong protections for employees who file workers’ compensation claims. Despite this robust set of laws, employers continue to engage in concerning and underhanded practices against employees while on workers’ compensation.
Our clients who file workers’ compensation claims are often scared of getting fired. Many workers’ fears are well-founded; either they receive pressure not to file the claim, or they face different types of abuse after filing a workers’ compensation claim. The Charlotte workers’ compensation attorneys of the Ramsay Law Firm, P.A., can explain existing North Carolina laws that protect workers who file workers’ compensation claims. If you are afraid of getting fired for filing a claim, contact the Ramsay Law Firm at (704) 461-0750.
REDA Claims for Retaliatory Discrimination in North Carolina
According to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 95-24(a), employers in North Carolina are prohibited from discriminating or retaliating against an employee because the employee made a good faith claim for workers’ compensation. A successful REDA claim will show:
- A filing of workers’ compensation
- Adverse action against the worker who sought workers’ compensation.
- The workers’ compensation claim was a substantial factor in the adverse action taken against him or her
- The adverse action would not have occurred in the absence of the employer’s knowledge of the claim
There are multiple ways in which an employer engages in adverse actions. The most common reaction is the termination of employment. However, there are other types of actions constituting adverse, retaliatory discrimination. Moreover, there are instances when employees are offered settlements in exchange for resignation in violation of REDA, or settlements are extended and later withdrawn with an emphasis on the employee’s resignation or departure.
If you have been receiving workers’ compensation and are receiving pressure to resign, an attorney can help you. There are times when resignation pressures come simultaneously with a settlement offer. It would be best if you talked to a qualified attorney when you’re confronted with this situation.
There are several possible repercussions to accepting a settlement offer. Also, if you are approached frequently with resignation requests and similar suggestions, you should talk to an experienced attorney who can guide you on this issue. Retaliation can take many forms. There have been situations in North Carolina where retaliation includes slander and defamation against the employee. For example, some workers have been accused of causing the injuries or of being afflicted with an ailment.
Injured workers usually recover from significant injuries but frequently are not able to return to their previous tasks until their doctor determines that recovery is complete. If the employer doesn’t have a type of job available for an employee who needs a position that will not hinder their medical improvement, it is possible that employment termination could be legal and does not violate REDA. However, North Carolina’s employers can seek the support of vocational experts with the knowledge and expertise to help them assign the employee to an adequate position.
North Carolina’s Public Policy
North Carolina has strong public policies against wrongful discharge when laborers file workers’ compensation claims. North Carolina’s public policy doctrine deems workers’ compensation as a legal right. Every employee in the state is entitled to seek this protection at the time of a work-related injury.
Employers can come up with crafty ways to make the employment conditions of a worker who suffered a short-term or permanent injury at work extremely difficult. Unlike other states, North Carolina’s public policy gives a direct signal to employers that dissuading employees from seeking workers’ compensation is a violation of the law.
Our team of legal experts understands the subtle ways in which an employee can be compelled to resign in contravention with North Carolina law, and we know how to protect clients encountering these stressful circumstances.
ADA Violations When Work Injuries Cause a Disability
Workers who file workers’ compensation claims frequently end up with a disability. An inability to perform a previous job is not a disability. However, the worker may have to receive reasonable accommodations consistent with the impairments he or she might face after an injury on the job occurred. According to 42 U.S.C. § 12102(2), a person is disabled under the ADA if he or is afflicted with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits at least one major life activity. To establish improper termination in violation of the ADA, the laborer must show that:
- He or she has a disability as defined in the ADA that is known to the employer
- The worker could perform essential work duties with reasonable accommodations
- Employment was terminated instead of providing accommodations
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC’s) regulations establish criteria for determining if an impairment within ADA definitions substantially limits a major life activity. According to 29 C.F.R. § 1630.2(j)(3), “substantially limited” means significantly restricted in the ability to perform comparable training, skills, and abilities. Vocational experts and medical professionals can assist in the determination of the type of equivalent training and skills that will not impair the employee’s recovery progress.
Let Our Charlotte Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Defend Your Rights
Our team of Charlotte Workers’ Compensation attorneys can give you a greater understanding as to whether your impairments meet the provisions of the ADA. The ADA and REDA comprise a vast area of law, one the team at the Ramsay Law Firm has been tackling for years. Let us put our knowledge and experience to work for you. Call the Ramsay Law Firm, P.A., today at (704) 461-0750 to discuss the details of your case.