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Dealing with Workers’ Comp Retaliation in California

Dealing with Retaliation After Filing for Workers’ Comp

Thousands of employees in California get injured every year. When you're injured on the job, workers' compensation can provide crucial support to help you recover physically, emotionally, and financially. Unfortunately, some employers may react negatively when their employees file for workers’ comp benefits.

No one deserves to undergo a serious injury and stressful recovery, only to return to the workplace and feel unwelcome, penalized, or discriminated against. In California, workers’ comp retaliation on part of employers and companies is illegal, making it all the more imperative for employees to understand what workers’ comp retaliation looks like at work. This can empower injured workers to exercise their rights accordingly, safeguard their professional reputation, and preserve their financial security.

Keep reading to learn about workers’ comp retaliation laws in California and how you can exercise your rights to restore your health and security at work.

What Is Workers’ Comp Retaliation?

Workers' comp retaliation occurs when an employer takes adverse actions against an employee in response to them exercising their right to workers’ compensation. Such actions can take many forms, employment termination, demotion, reduction in pay, denial of benefits or promotions, unexplained changes in job duties, increased scrutiny, or any other form of mistreatment intended to punish or deter the employee from filing or receiving workers’ comp.

Workers’ Comp Retaliation Laws in California

If you’re an injured worker, it’s critical to know your rights, including the right to file for workers’ compensation benefits after a workplace injury. In California, there are important protections in place to safeguard workers’ rights. Below are some fundamental legal protections that prohibit workers’ comp retaliation:

California Labor Code §132(a)

Under §132(a) of the California Labor Code, employees are protected from discrimination and retaliation by their employers for exercising their workers' compensation rights. This crucial provision provides specific legal remedies for employees who have been subjected to adverse actions by their employers due to their workers' comp claims or involvement in related proceedings.

Under this section, it’s unlawful for an employer to discriminate or take adverse employment actions against an employee for filing or intending to file a workers' compensation claim. This includes employees who testify or intend to testify in any workers' comp hearing or proceeding.

Some key points to know about §132(a) include:

  • Prohibition of Discrimination – The provision explicitly prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on their exercise of workers' comp rights.
  • Protected Activities – The section protects employees engaged in specific activities related to workers' compensation. This includes filing or intending to file a workers' comp claim, as well as providing testimony or intending to testify in workers' comp hearings or proceedings.
  • Scope of Liability – California Labor Code Section 132(a) applies to all employers, regardless of their size or type of business. It covers both public and private sector employees in the state.

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA)

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits retaliation against employees who exercise their rights under workers' compensation laws. This law provides broader protections against retaliation and covers a wide range of adverse employment actions based on an employee's protected status, such as disability or perceived disability resulting from a workplace injury.

3 Steps to Address Workers’ Comp Retaliation in CA

If you believe you are facing retaliation after filing for workers' comp, it's crucial to take appropriate steps to protect your rights. Here are some recommended steps for injured workers to take if they suspect they’re being retaliated against:

1. Secure legal representation from an experienced workers’ comp attorney.

When facing workers' compensation retaliation, injured employees often find themselves in a vulnerable position. Employers often attempt to intimidate or mistreat workers for asserting their rights, which is why it’s imperative to secure representation from a trusted workers’ comp lawyer with an in-depth understanding of workers’ compensation laws in California. Your attorney can work closely with you to assess the unique details of your case, fortify your claim with the strongest evidence possible, and determine the most effective legal strategy to employ on your behalf.

Having a qualified legal advocate in your corner is invaluable. Your representative can use their specialized knowledge to fight for maximum compensation on your behalf, as many employers attempt to bait injured workers with lowball settlements when they deserve much more. Our workers’ comp attorneys have over 75 years of combined legal experience to help you stand up to unethical employers and offer free consultations to help you understand your options and take action.

2. File a complaint with the California Labor Commissioner.

The California Labor Commissioner, also known as the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), is responsible for investigating retaliation complaints and helping injured workers recover recoverable damages, such as lost wages, punitive damages, and emotional distress. Reporting workers' comp retaliation to the California Labor Commissioner is a crucial step for injured workers wishing to address their employer’s adverse actions in the workplace.

Employees can accomplish this by submitting a Retaliation Complaint form, which is available on the DLSE's official website. You can also obtain the form by visiting your local DLSE office. It’s important to fill out the Retaliation Complaint form thoroughly, accurately, and in its entirety. Workers should take care to provide as much detailed information and evidence as possible about the adverse actions they’ve experienced, including dates, times, locations, and the individuals involved.

3. Stay informed as you wait to hear back about your claim.

While it can be hard to stay patient after filing a complaint against an employer, there are helpful things that employees can do to alleviate some of their stress and give themselves the best chance of succeeding, such as:

  • Staying in communication with their workers’ comp attorney
  • Cooperating with legal rules and guidelines during the agency
  • Keeping themselves up-to-date about the status of their claim, especially if further action is needed

Retaliation after filing for workers' comp is both unjust and illegal. As an injured employee in California, it's crucial to understand your rights, document any instances of retaliation, and seek appropriate legal counsel to protect your interests. Remember, you don't have to face retaliation alone. By taking proactive steps and relying on the support of a knowledgeable attorney, you can assert your rights, obtain justice, and secure the benefits you rightfully deserve to make a full recovery and restore your health.

Contact Our Trusted Workers’ Comp Lawyers

At Alvandi Law Group, P.C., we focus exclusively on workers’ comp in California. With over 75 years of combined legal experience, our firm is well-equipped to represent injured employees in a range of workers’ comp cases, from construction accidents to work vehicle accidents. If you’ve experienced mistreatment or adverse actions in the workplace after filing for workers’ comp or receiving benefits, it’s crucial to safeguard your rights and financial security by demanding the compensation you deserve from unethical employers.

As a California employee, you have the right to workers’ comp after workplace injuries. Call (800) 980-6905 to schedule a free consultation with our experienced workers’ comp attorneys.


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