Can I Lose My Job for Filing a Workers’ Comp Claim in North Carolina?
Like many people, I continue to work from home during the pandemic, and as much as I try to stay grounded and keep up with the news only a few times a day, I do find myself looking at the staggering numbers regarding employment in North Carolina. I am thankful that I continue to have a job, a paycheck and the ability to pay the bills. Over 36 million people in the United States have filed for unemployment and over one million people have filed claims for unemployment in North Carolina.
For those who continue to have a job and earn a paycheck, I expect that there is a lot of fear about losing that job. That can sometimes lead to failing to protect yourself for possible short-term gain versus significant long-term loss. If you get hurt on the job in NC or if you see a co-worker get hurt, there are statutory protections available against retaliatory termination.
REDA and Your Rights
In 1992, the North Carolina Legislature passed the Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act (REDA). In addition, the NC Legislature created the Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Board. The Board investigates employee complaints and if they find the complaint to be valid, the Board works to find a settlement, issue a right to sue letter or take legal action on behalf of the complainant.
REDA states that there shall be no retaliation against employees who:
- File a claim or complaint
- Initiate an inquiry
- Ask for an investigation
- Request an inspection
- Want a proceeding or other action
- Testify to provide information regarding multiple incidents.
These incidents include workers’ compensation claims, wage and hour claims and OSHA claims. REDA defines retaliatory or discriminatory action as any adverse action in terms of conditions, privileges or benefits of employment. Examples include discharge, demotion, suspension, decrease in wages, or retaliatory relocation.
Remedies for employees under REDA include an injunction to stop the violation at issue, reinstatement into the complainant’s job, compensation for lost wages and economic issues as a result of the violation. In addition, the NC Court can triple the award for lost wages, benefits economic losses, etc. if the court finds that the employer engaged in a willful violation of REDA.
Get Help if You Need It
Before you make a quick and ill-informed decision, talk to an experienced attorney about your case. You can learn about your rights and be advised as to the best course forward. Consultations with attorneys in NC about workers’ compensation cases are free so get informed and make a good call about your best path forward.