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Employees Protected Against Retaliation for Workers' Compensation Claims

Posted on in Workers' Compensation

Employees Protected Against Retaliation for Workers' Compensation ClaimsStates require employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance in order to prevent employees from suing their employers after being injured on the job. The employee has a chance to receive benefits covering the cost of medical expenses and lost wages. The employer avoids a more costly court case, while its insurance provider covers the compensation costs. However, an insurer will increase the premiums on its coverage when an employer has an above average number of cases. This gives the employer an incentive to try to dispute the workers’ compensation claim. Some employers punish employees who try to file claims. In such cases, the employee can sue his or her employer for retaliation.

Forms of Retaliation

The most damaging way employers can retaliate against their workers is by terminating their employment. Illinois’ Workers’ Compensation Act prohibits an employer from discharging or threatening to discharge an employee because he or she is pursuing the right to seek workers’ compensation. Retaliation can take forms other than firing an employee, such as:

  • Demotion;
  • Denying promotion;
  • Refusing to rehire;
  • Unwarranted disciplinary action; and
  • Inaccurate job performance reviews.

Filing a Retaliation Lawsuit

Employees are allowed to sue their employers if they believe the employers retaliated against them for filing workers’ compensation claims. However, an employee must prove that the employer’s punitive actions were connected to the workers’ compensation case. Employers are allowed to take action against employees if there is a justifiable reason behind it. In cases of actual retaliation, the employer will likely be shrewd enough to have an excuse for the punitive action. The employee must show that there is at least a casual connection between the employer’s action and the compensation claim, such as if:

  • The action occurred immediately after the employer learned of the claim; or
  • The employer does not have a legitimate explanation for its actions.


A retaliation lawsuit can request multiple forms of compensation, depending on the extent of the employer’s actions. The basic award will cover wages the employee lost due to the employer’s actions. If the employer is shown to have been malicious in its intent, the employee may also seek punitive damages. However, workers’ compensation benefits are not awarded as part of the lawsuit. Proving retaliation is separate from proving the legitimacy of a workers’ compensation claim.

Protection Against Retaliation

Your employer is not allowed to threaten or intimidate you because of your intention to file a workers’ compensation claim. Any dispute it has about your claim should come up during your hearing. A McHenry County workers’ compensation attorney with Botto Gilbert Lancaster can help you present your workers’ compensation claim and protect you against employer retaliation. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.



Illinois State Bar Association State Bar of Wisconsin Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce Illinois Trial Lawyers Association McHenry County Bar Association
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