All employees in Monterey County and anywhere else in California are required to obtain and maintain workers’ compensation insurance coverage. If an employee is hurt on the job, they have a right to file for no-fault workers’ compensation benefits through their employer’s policy. Under California Labor Code 132(a), employers are barred from retaliating against an employer who files for benefits.
As an employer, you may be wondering: How is retaliation defined under California’s workers’ compensation law? The short answer is that retaliation is any discriminatory action taken against an employee because he or she filed for work injury benefits. Here, our Salinas workers’ compensation defense lawyer explains in more detail what constitutes retaliation under Labor Code 132(a).
Labor Code 132(a): Retaliation is Adverse Employment Action Connected to Protected Activity
It is the expressed policy of the State of California that employees have a right to file for workers’ compensation benefits without facing any unfavorable consequences from their employee. Here is the key thing that employers need to know about the law: California’s Labor Code 132(a) forbids “discrimination against workers who are injured in the course and scope of their employment.” An employer can be held legally liable for unlawful retaliation under Labor Code 132(a) if:
- They fire an employee because he or she was hurt on the job or filed for workers’ compensation;
- They threaten to fire an employee who intends to file for workers’ compensation; or
- They otherwise discriminate against an employee who files for workers’ compensation benefits.
An employer in California that stands accused of violating Labor Code 132(a) may face significant sanctions. Among other things, state law holds that an employer can be hit with a workers’ compensation surcharge—with the affected employee being awarded up to an additional $10,000.00 in worker’s benefits. Further, if an employee is fired in retaliation for a work injury, they could be granted full back pay and other remedies.
What Employers Can Do if They Face an Unjustified Labor Code 132(a) Claim
The fact that an employee was hurt on the job and filed for workers’ compensation benefits does not mean that they are permanently protected against any sort of adverse employment action. In California, employers have a wide latitude to make their own hiring and firing decisions. You simply cannot fire or otherwise discriminate against a worker because they filed for workers’ compensation.
If your company is facing an unjustified allegation of retaliation under Labor Code 132(a), it is imperative that you get organized. In defending this type of claim, you need to be ready to present a strong, well-supported case that demonstrates why the employee in question was terminated (or otherwise subject to unfavorable action) and how those reasons were unrelated to workers’ compensation.
At Yrulegui & Roberts, our California workers’ compensation defense lawyers are proud to provide personalized, solutions-driven legal advocacy to employers, claim administrators, and insurance companies. If you have any questions about defending a retaliation claim under Labor Code 132(a), we are more than ready to help. Call us now or contact us online for your initial consultation. Our firm provides Labor Code 132(a) representation in Salinas, Monterey County, and throughout California.