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Can an Employer Refuse to Hire Me Due to a Prior Workers' Comp Claim?

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

Are you afraid to make a workers' comp claim? Afraid your employer will fire you? Afraid another employer won't hire you because of your workers' comp claim?

Don't be. Your have rights and are usually protected by the law.

Prohibited By State Law

Workers' compensation law varies from state to state. Most states have laws prohibiting firing or demoting an employee in retaliation for a workers' comp claim. Some even specifically forbid refusing to hire a prospective employee because a workers' comp claim.

For example, Alaska law states, "An employer may not discriminate in hiring, promotion, or retention policies or practices against an employee who has in good faith filed a claim for or received benefits [for workers' compensation]." In Illinois, it is illegal for an employer to ask a prospective employee about any prior workers' comp claims. Vermont, Oregon, and Louisiana also have similar provisions.

Civil Claim for Wrongful Termination

Indiana, Iowa, and Kansas don't have laws proscribing retaliation for making a workers' comp claim. However, the courts in those states do recognize a wrongful termination claim. Usually, you have the burden of proving that the workers' comp claim was the main factor for termination.

No Protection

Georgia, Mississippi, and Rhode Island are among the minority of states that offer no protection against retaliation for a workers' comp claim. Mississippi's Supreme Court refused to recognize an exception to the policy of at-will employment, which allows employees and employers to terminate employment for any reason or no reason at all.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act also offers some protection. The act forbids discrimination in all aspects of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, promotion, and even training. It is illegal for employers to discriminate against employees and applicants because they have a current disability or had a past disability.

The ADA only applies to employers who have 15 or more employees.

If you believe that an employer has discriminated against you because of a prior workers' compensation claim, an experienced workers' comp attorney will be able to help you assess and file your claim.

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