Dealing with an injury is hard enough, but you should not have to worry that you’ll lose your job because of your workers’ compensation claim. Even though it’s illegal to demote or fire a worker for bringing a workers’ compensation case, unfortunately it does happen.
That’s why Illinois law protects injured workers by allowing them to bring an additional case for illegal termination. These cases are significant, because you can ask for punitive damages against the employer, and the amount of money involved can be quite high. Punitive damages both punish the employer for interfering with your workers’ compensation rights, and they attempt to deter other employers from doing the same.
Recently an injured worker in southern Illinois sued his employer for illegally terminating him because of his workers’ compensation case. He was awarded $4.2 million in damages, which included $3.6 million in punitive damages. In his case, he said that the company had retaliated against him for exercising his right to benefits for medical treatment. He sued for his lost income, benefits, his emotional distress, in addition to punitive damages.
At the end of the case, the jury seemed to agree with the worker, that he had been deliberately fired because of his workers’ compensation claim. The jury’s decision to award him significant punitive damages, likely lets other employers know that Illinois law is in the workers’ corner, protecting them from this kind of abuse of the workers’ rights to workers’ compensation benefits.
Not every case is necessarily going to be worth that much money in damages. And proving that you were fired because of your workers’ compensation case is not always easy. You have to be able to show more than just that your were fired after you filed your claim. You need evidence that shows that your workers’ compensation case was the reason you were fired. But employers cannot hide behind some false reason, if the facts show that it was just meant to hide that you were really fired for your workers’ compensation case.
The message to employers is clear. Illinois law protects injured workers and their right to workers’ compensation benefits for their injuries on the job.
We are workers' compensation attorneys that help people with Illinois work injuries anywhere in IL via our statewide network of attorneys. Contact us and we will answer your questions or find the right lawyer for your situation.