What Evidence Can an Employer Use to Defend a Labor Code 132(a) Claim?

An employee who is injured on the job has the right to file for workers’ compensation benefits. They cannot be punished for doing so. Indeed, even if an employer believes that a worker is filing a false claim, retaliation should be avoided. Under California Labor Code § 132(a), an employer that engaged in retaliation can face serious sanctions, potentially including a criminal charge. This raises an important question: How do employers defend themselves against Labor Code 132(a) claims? Evidence is key. Below, our Pasadena workers’ compensation defense attorney discusses the most common types of evidence that employers can use to defend Labor Code 132(a) claims in California.

Know the Labor Code: Understanding Labor Code 132(a)

To start, it is useful to have a background understanding of Labor Code 132(a). The statute protects employees from retaliation or discrimination for filing or intending to file a workers’ compensation claim. An employer cannot fire, threaten to fire, or otherwise punish a worker simply because he or she filed for workers’ compensation. An employer found in violation of Labor Code 132(a) can face serious financial penalties, increased workers’ compensation premiums, and other sanctions.

What an Employer Should Be Prepared to Prove: No Retaliatory Animus

When defending against a claim under Labor Code 132(a), an employer must focus on proving the absence of retaliatory animus—that is, the employer did not act with a retaliatory motive in taking adverse action against the employee. In other words, you must be ready to show that any employment decisions made regarding the employee were based on legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons.

An Overview of Evidence that Can Be Used to Defend a Labor Code 132(a) Claim

How does an employer raise an effective defense against a Labor Code 132(a) claim in California? The answer depends on case-specific factors. With that being said, the following types of evidence can be used to establish that there was no retaliatory animus:

  • Documented Performance Issues: Evidence of documented performance issues that predate the workers’ compensation claim can demonstrate that disciplinary action was based on legitimate business reasons and not retaliatory in nature.
  • Consistent Application of Policies: Showing that all employees are subject to the same policies and that these policies were consistently applied can help prove that the actions taken against the complainant were standard practice and not discriminatory.
  • Timeline of Events: A detailed timeline that shows the decision to take adverse employment actions was made before the employee filed or announced intention to file a workers’ compensation claim can help to demonstrate a lack of retaliatory motive.
  • Witness Testimony: Testimony from management, HR personnel, co-workers, and other people with first-hand knowledge can provide support to the defense of no retaliation.

Get Help From a Top-Tier Pasadena Workers’ Compensation Defense Attorney

At Yrulegui & Roberts, our Pasadena workers’ compensation defense lawyers have the skills and expertise to defend all types of cases, including Labor Code 132(a) claims. If you have any questions about preparing a defense, please do not hesitate to contact us today for a confidential initial case review. Our firm defends Labor Code 132(a) claims in Pasadena and throughout the region of California.