Can My Boss Cut My Hours After I File For Workers Compensation?
Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers | Workers’ Compensation
Employees who sustain a work-related injury can file a workers’ compensation claim. Most employers are required to provide workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. Workers are entitled to benefits, and employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who file workers’ comp claims.
Florida Law Prohibiting Employer Retaliation for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Florida Statute §440.250 prohibits an employer from taking the following actions against an employee regarding a valid claim for compensation:
- Threaten to discharge
The law exists to protect employees who file claims for a work-related injury or occupational illness. Consider the two following concepts that pertain to this statute:
A Protected Activity
The employee filed a valid claim or attempted to file a valid claim for workers’ compensation. For example, notifying an employer of a work injury and mentioning the employer’s obligation to provide workers’ compensation can be considered attempting to file a valid claim. Likewise, asking for medical treatment after a work accident could be considered an attempt to file a valid claim.
A legitimate claim is considered valid as opposed to a fraudulently filed claim. For example, faking a work injury to collect workers’ compensation benefits would not be a protected activity.
Adverse Employment Action
Firing or threatening to fire an employee for filing a workers’ comp claim is expressly prohibited by the statute. However, acts of coercion and intimidation might be more challenging to define.
Activities that could fall under the definition of coercion and intimidation might include:
- Threatening to place an employee on an undesirable shift
- Reducing work hours
- Demoting the employee
- Adding additional job responsibilities that are not part of the employee’s job requirements
- Preventing the employee from working overtime hours when all other similarly situated employees are allowed to work overtime
By taking the above actions, the employer attempts to prevent the worker from filing a claim or retaliating for filing a claim.
Connection Between the Protected Activity and the Adverse Employment Action
An employer rarely admits that it intimidated or coerced an employee to prevent them from filing a workers’ comp claim. The employer is unlikely to state verbally or in writing that the reason for reducing your hours is because you filed or intend to file a claim.
Therefore, workers’ compensation lawyers search for other evidence to support an employer retaliation claim. For example, you report a work accident and request medical treatment. Within a few days, you receive notice from your employer that it reduced your hours by one-half.
Because the time between the protected activity and the retaliation is short, the court may find that the employer violated the law. The employer would need to provide convincing evidence that it had decided to cut your work hours before you reported a work injury.
Adverse employment actions do not always indicate employer retaliation. However, without a valid, reasonable explanation for adverse actions on the heels of a workers’ compensation claim, an employer might have difficulty proving it did not intend to punish the employee for filing a claim.
What Should You Do if You Believe Your Employer Cut Your Hours Because You Filed for Workers’ Compensation?
If your employer cut your hours after a work-related injury, ask your supervisor for an explanation. You may request a written explanation for your employment file.
There could be a legitimate reason for your employer reducing your hours after you filed a workers’ compensation claim.
For example, suppose your doctor restricted your work duties for 12 weeks. Your employer may not have sufficient “light duty” tasks to keep you busy for your regular working hours. Therefore, your employer reduced your hours accordingly.
However, your employer intends to place you back on your regular working hours once your doctor allows you to return to work without restrictions. In that case, your employer’s actions probably do not violate the law.
Suppose your employer cannot or will not provide a valid reason for reducing your work hours after a workplace injury. In that case, you should talk with a workers’ compensation attorney. You might need to file a complaint against your employer for violating the law prohibiting retaliation for filing a claim.
An attorney reviews your claim, discusses the facts of the case with you, and advises you of your legal rights. If you choose to proceed with a claim and hire a lawyer, your attorney conducts a thorough investigation to collect evidence and prepare a complaint. As a result, you could receive compensation for lost wages, future loss of income, and other damages.
Contact the Pinellas County Workers’ Compensation Law Firm Of Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers for Help
For more information, please contact the Clearwater and St. Petersburg workers’ compensation law firm of Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers at the nearest location to schedule a free consultation today.
We serve in Pinellas County, and its surrounding areas:
Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers – Clearwater
1875 N Belcher Rd. STE 201,
Clearwater, FL 33765,
Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers – St. Petersburg
2560 1st Ave S,
St. Petersburg, FL 33712,