We write all of the time about the gross and often illegal ways that insurance companies try to deny Illinois workers’ compensation claims. Every now and then though we get calls from employees who tell us what their company is doing that also breaks the law.

The most recent one I heard of was from an injured worker in Chicago who works for a very large staffing agency. This temp service, like all others, is responsible for any workers’ compensation claims when they send out an employee to a business.

This particular worker was badly injured in a forklift accident and may need a major surgery.  He called me almost apologetically, thinking he was wasting my time because his temp agency employer had him sign a contract when he was hired that said if he was hurt at work he wouldn’t file for workers’ compensation, but instead would participate in mediation.

That contract is illegal and even though the worker signed it, it’s not enforceable.  In general under Illinois law, an illegal contract can not be enforced. It’s against the law to have an employee waive their rights to workers’ comp benefits in Illinois.  This contract is no more legal than you signing one that says you agree to murder someone.

But the contract did have it’s intended effect which was to discourage this and other workers from knowing and asserting their rights.  Just like with insurance companies, if three out of ten cases go away from their illegal activities, it’s a win for them. Heck, if one person doesn’t assert their rights it’s a money saver on the backs of their employees.

This type of stuff partly enrages me and partly amuses me because it’s so easy to beat.

Things for you to know as an injured worker in Illinois:

  1. You can’t waive your rights to workers comp or be forced to use mediation instead of the normal system.
  2. Temp workers have the same rights as any other employee in Illinois.
  3. If you signed an illegal contract it’s not worth the paper it’s written on.

Our goal is for all workers to know their rights and make educated decisions. If you have questions or want to discuss representation anywhere in Illinois, contact us at any time.  All calls, chats and emails are free and confidential and you will always speak with an experienced attorney.