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Legal to Discipline an Injured Employee?

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on March 02, 2012 6:02 AM

Sometimes employers want to discipline an injured employee. After all, accidents may occur because of the employee's negligence or bad behavior. Employers might wonder if there are any workplace injury laws that bar discipline.

It all depends. You might need to examine your employment or labor contracts. And, you probably need to scrutinize your disciplinary policies.

You also need to be careful about relevant OSHA statutes. You wouldn't want to be accused of retaliation.

Typically, employers can discipline employees for misconduct. It may be best for you to outline your disciplinary policies in written form. This way, employees will know what to expect. They will also be more cognizant about what behavior is acceptable.

But just because discipline is legal does not mean it's an easy issue to navigate. There are many legal considerations that an employer may need to consider.

For one, if your employee files an OSHA claim you typically cannot retaliate against them.

It's an employer's responsibility to furnish a safe workplace under OSHA safety standards. Employers need to document injuries and warn employees of potential dangers. If an employee is injured as a result of unsafe conditions and reports this to OSHA, employers cannot engage in retaliatory measures.

This could include firing or even disciplining an employee. If the employer does retaliate, the employee may file a complaint with OSHA.

You also don't want to illegally discriminate against injured employees.

Whether or not you discipline an injured employee is ultimately your decision. But to get more information about workplace injury laws, you might want to consider consulting an experienced employment attorney in your jurisdiction. This way, you can stay informed of the relevant statutes. The last thing you want is to face an employee-initiated lawsuit.

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