Can my employer terminate me for filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim?

It is important to know that if you are hurt on the job, you have an absolute right to file a claim for benefits under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. The injured worker should not fear a repercussion from the employer for exercising his rights under the law. In fact, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act Section 4(h)states: It shall be unlawful for any employer, insurance company or service or adjustment company to interfere with, restrain or coerce an employee in any manner whatsoever in the exercise of the rights or remedies granted to him or her by this Act or to discriminate, attempt to discriminate, or threaten to discriminate against an employee in any way because of his or her exercise of the rights or remedies granted to him or her by this Act. It shall be unlawful for any employer, individually or through any insurance company or service or adjustment company, to discharge or to threaten to discharge, or to refuse to rehire or recall to active service in a suitable capacity an employee because of the exercise of his or her rights or remedies granted to him or her by this Act.

This part of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act has been interpreted by the Illinois Supreme Court to mean that if an injured worker is fired for filing his workers’ compensation claim, the worker has a right to present his case to a jury and request money damages, including punitive damages against the employer. While it is rare for an employer to discharge a worker for filing a workers’ compensation claim, the Statute and the Illinois Supreme Court have provided a powerful remedy which acts as a deterrent to improper employer conduct.

We advise that in order to fully protect your rights under the Workers’ Compensation Act, you immediately file your claim with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. If you fail to file the claim, you may have given up your rights under the statutory provision cited above. The Court requires that the injured worker exercise his rights under the Workers’ Compensation law, not just as for benefits. This is where the advice of a lawyer familiar with Workers’ Compensation law is crucial. This jury trial cause of action is called “retaliatory discharge” and must be filed in a civil court, not at the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. If you have questions, please visit our website: www.kfeej.com or telephone us for a free consultation, 312-263-6330 or call our downstate injury hotline, 1-800-444-1525.