Punishment for Firing Employees in Retaliation for Filing a Work Injury Claim

February 27, 2024

Filing a work comp claim is an essential right afforded to employees throughout California, designed to ensure their well-being and financial stability in the aftermath of a workplace injury. While employees are seldom happy when an employee exercises this right, the majority of them choose to adhere to the law and provide necessary benefits. Majority – but not all of them.

In some instances, employers choose to resolve the “issue” in the worst way possible: by firing a loyal employee and forcing them to hire a workers’ compensation lawyer near them just so they could realize their right to fair compensation. Needless to say, California law does not view this behavior favorably and defines a host of punitive measures for those who choose this course of action.

What constitutes workplace retaliation in California?

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Workplace retaliation includes various forms of adverse actions employers undertake against employees for engaging in so-called “protected activities”, such as:

  • Filing a complaint or a workers’ compensation claim;
  • Reporting illegal activities (“whistleblowing”);
  • Participating in workplace investigations.

Employer retaliation can take many forms, ranging from ongoing harassment to denial of promotions or raises to job termination. While the last one is of particular interest to us, it is important to note that retaliation is against the law, regardless of the form it comes in.

What Penalties Can Employers Face for Wrongful Termination?

In California, employers face legal consequences if they fire an injured worker for filing a work injury claim. Such retaliation falls under the domain of wrongful termination, is a clear violation of labor laws, and employers can be subject to penalties and legal action, including: 

  • Reinstatement: Employers may be required to reinstate the injured worker to their previous position or a comparable one. This aims to restore the employee to their pre-retaliation employment status.
  • Back Pay: Employers might be obligated to provide back pay to compensate the worker for lost wages during the period of termination, ensuring that the employee is not financially penalized for filing a legitimate work injury claim.
  • Litigation Costs: Employers may be responsible for covering the injured worker’s legal fees and related litigation costs if the case goes to court. This can add a significant financial burden for the employer.
  • Civil Penalties: There could be civil penalties imposed on the employer for violating labor laws related to retaliation. These penalties serve as a deterrent and can be substantial, depending on the severity of the retaliation.
  • Additional Damages: In certain cases, the injured worker may be entitled to additional damages beyond back pay, such as compensation for emotional distress or other losses resulting from the retaliatory action.
  • Injunctions: Courts may issue injunctions to prevent further retaliation, ensuring that the employer refrains from any future adverse actions against the injured worker for exercising their rights to file a work injury claim.
What Penalties Can Employers Face for Wrongful Termination

It’s crucial to note that California has some of the most rigorous worker protection laws, including anti-retaliation provisions under workers’ compensation regulations. Employers should be aware that taking adverse actions against employees for exercising their rights is viewed disfavorably by the system and selected work comp judges alike, as it is not only ethically questionable but also legally punishable.

Despite this, injured workers who believe they have been unfairly terminated for filing a work injury claim should still consult with legal professionals to explore their rights and potential courses of action. Navigating employer retaliation case can be equivalent to “fighting fire with fire”, making expertise-based representation not only necessary but essential.

Where to find an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer near me?

LA Accident Pros is a team of certified workers’ compensation specialists, dedicated to providing mindful guidance and strategic representation to clients throughout Southern California. Our assertive lawyers have thousands of successful cases behind their backs, the majority of which resulted in maximum compensation. If you wish to give yourself the best chance of realizing your law-given rights, turning to us is the superior choice. Contact our office at Central City West, LA today, and let our fierce advocacy pave the way for your better future!

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