It is illegal for Pennsylvania employers to deny an injured employee the right to apply for workers’ compensation benefits or to report the unsafe workplace conditions that caused their injury. Sadly, some employers do so anyway. Employees suffering a work-related injury, however, may file for workers’ comp benefits and report unsafe conditions regardless of their employer’s disagreement. The law protects employees from retaliation.
If a company fires a worker in retaliation for filing a claim, the worker may then file a legal action against the employer to recover damages for their actions.
Examples of legal action against employers
As a case in point, here are a couple examples of cases against an employer:
A federal judge ordered a fire-protection equipment manufacturing company to pay three of its former employees more than $1 million in punitive damages and backpay after their employer fired them.
When a worker suffered a serious injury requiring amputation of three of his fingers, he filed a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA.) When OSHA began an onsite investigation, the company then fired the injured employee, as reported by EHS Daily Advisor BLR.
A second employee took photographs of the machine that injured the first employee and provided the images as evidence of the company’s unsafe working conditions. When OSHA fined the company, the employer then terminated the second employee.
OSHA continued its investigation of the manufacturing plant and gained the cooperation of a third employee. The company then terminated the third employee as well. The court found that the employer engaged in unlawful discrimination by wrongfully retaliating against the injured employee and the two others involved in reporting the unsafe work conditions.
It is common for employees to fear termination if they speak up but know that the law is on your side when your employer is engaging in illegal practices.