Workers’ Fear of Job Loss Affects Workers Comp Outcomes
Researchers looking at workers comp outcomes have identified job anxiety as a major factor in treatment and injury outcomes.
“Better information about the predictors of poorer worker outcomes may allow payors and doctors to better target health care and return-to-work interventions to those most at risk,” said Dr. Richard Victor, executive director of the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI), which looked at workers comp across eight states.
The study, Predictors of Worker Outcomes, found that trust in the work place and job security is one of the most important predictors in how quickly an injured worker will heal. However, the workers comp study also found that the impact of job security or mistrust in an employer had not been examined before. They found:
- Workers who were concerned about being fired after being injured on the job had poor return-to-work rates and workers comp outcomes.
- 1 in 5 workers was concerned about being fired after applying for workers comp, and they reported that they were not working at the time of the interview. That was double the rate of workers who believed they had job security.
- Concerns about being fired for an on-the-job injury or workers comp application were associated with a 4-week increase in the average duration of disability.
The study looked at 3,200 injured workers in the past year in Indiana, Michigan, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Minnesota, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. North Carolina had the highest rate of concern about employer retaliation or job stability after workers comp application, with 47% of workers interviewed in the state saying they were somewhat or very concerned about having a job after their injury had healed.
“Among workers who were concerned about being fired, 20% reported big problems getting the services that they or their provider wanted,” WCRI said in the North Carolina report. “This rate was double the 9% among workers who were not concerned about being fired.”
Employer Retaliation of Workers’ Comp
Most commonly, people think of workers’ comp retaliation as retaliatory discharge or firing an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim.
Improper retaliation can fall short of termination, such as discrimination or harassment, and may include the following:
- demotion, negative reassignment, reclassification or transfer;
- unwarranted disciplinary action and/or negative performance evaluations;
- wage reductions, salary reductions or a reduction in the number of hours scheduled; or
- an unreasonable increase or decrease in job duties or responsibilities.
Most states have some legal remedy for injured workers retaliation. The right to sue for workers comp retaliation varies from state to state, so it is a good idea to consult a SC work injury lawyer to protect your rights for workplace injury. South Carolina is an at-will employment state, meaning an employer can hire or fire an employee for any reason or no reason at all, subject to certain exceptions.
Employers may still legitimately terminate or discipline any employee, regardless of workers’ compensation status. However, the employer’s reason for the negative action cannot be a pretext for workers’ compensation retaliation and the negative action may not violate any other employment law(s).
Possible remedies may be available through state agencies and/or in court actions. Even where legislative action has not protected such workers, many state courts have allowed hurt workers to file retaliatory discharge lawsuits if they are retaliated against for seeking compensation for workplace accidents.
The Strom Law Firm Understands Worker’s Comp Legislation
The workers’ comp lawyers at The Strom Law Firm, LLC proudly seek justice on behalf of employees injured or killed on the job who work for private companies, as well as employees working for local county, city, and state government. We are licensed to practice throughout South Carolina, as well as Georgia and New York. If you are confused about worker’s comp laws, or have had your worker’s comp claim denied, contact us. We offer free consultations to discuss the facts of your case. 803.252.4800.