You have a legal claim for wrongful termination if you get fired after filing for workers’ compensation in North Carolina. Anyone who is fired for a workers’ compensation claim is likely already going through a difficult time recovering from injuries. Losing a job can present unfair hardships. You can file a lawsuit for damages if you’re fired in violation of North Carolina’s Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act (REDA), North Carolina public policy, or the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Here, attorneys of the Ramsay Law Firm, P.A., explain existing North Carolina laws designed to protect against unlawful termination because of filing a workers’ compensation claim. While employees can be fired if there is a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason, there are suspect reasons for the termination of an employee who files a workers’ comp claim. If you were fired on questionable grounds after filing a claim, contact the Ramsay Law Firm, P.A., at (704) 376-1616.
What Do I Need to File a Wrongful Termination Claim North Carolina?
It’s illegal to terminate an employee who is asserting his or her legal rights. State and federal laws create strong protections for employees who file workers’ compensation claims. To file a lawsuit for wrongful termination in North Carolina while you receive workers’ compensation, you need to establish that your termination violated this legal protection.
Employment Discrimination Laws in North Carolina
If you’re fired for filing a workers’ compensation claim, your employer is essentially discriminating against you and retaliating in violation of North Carolina’s laws. Here are some of the laws designed to protect you.
Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act (REDA)
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 employment action against the worker who sought workers’ compensation.
- The workers’ compensation claim was a substantial factor in the adverse employment action taken against him or her.
- The adverse action would not have occurred in the absence of the employer’s knowledge of the claim.
North Carolina Public Policy
North Carolina has a strong public policy against wrongful discharge when laborers file workers’ compensation claims. North Carolina’s public policy doctrine deems workers’ compensation a legal right. Every North Carolinian employee is entitled to seek this protection at the time of a work-related injury.
To establish improper termination in violation of the ADA, the worker must show that:
- He or she has a disability defined by the ADA and known to the employer.
- The worker could perform essential work duties with reasonable accommodations.
- Employment was terminated instead of providing accommodations.
Your condition may be a permanent or temporary disability. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regulations provide the criteria for determining if an impairment is consistent with the ADA definitions of what conditions substantially limit 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.
Pressure to Resign vs. Wrongful Termination
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. This type of exchange goes against the spirit of workers’ compensation protections and is an underhanded way to get away with firing an employee illegally.
If you have been receiving workers’ compensation and were pressured into resigning, you may have been wrongfully terminated in violation of REDA. A qualified attorney can help you determine whether you can file a lawsuit to seek remedies for your losses.
What Types of Damages or Losses Can I Recover If I File A Lawsuit?
Depending on your circumstances, these damages can include:
- Back pay for lost wages and missed benefits
- Lost wages until you’re employed if reinstatement isn’t workable
- Out-of-pocket costs caused by the firing
- Attorneys’ fees and legal costs
- Pain and suffering damages caused by emotional distress resulting from your employer’s illegal actions
- Punitive damages intended to punish your employer for breaking the law
You should talk to an attorney for a more detailed review of the types of damages you can recover in a lawsuit for wrongful termination.
Charlotte Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Offering Free Consultations
It’s important that you document performance review and other information that can support there were no issues with your performance until you filed the workers’ compensation claim. Make sure to keep employment-related documents such as your contract, performance reviews, job description, and any written communications related to your employment.
Your lawsuit doesn’t depend on the status of your workers’ compensation claim. The essential purpose of the law is to protect all workers who file for workers’ compensation irrespective of whether the claim is approved or settled. The attorneys at the Ramsay Law Firm, P.A., can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call us today at (704) 376-1616 to set up your free consultation.