No matter how careful employees might be, they may still be victims of workplace injuries. Under the New Mexico Workers’ Compensation Act, employees who are hurt at work are entitled to wage replacement, medical care, and vocational rehabilitation benefits. An injured employee has the right to file a workers’ compensation claim, and his employer cannot legally punish him for doing so.
Why Employers Retaliate
As with other types of insurance, an increase in total workers’ compensation claims leads to a higher cost of coverage. Employers faced with the prospect of rising insurance rates may be tempted to retaliate against employees filing for workers’ compensation benefits. This retaliation may take the form of worker termination, demotion, pay cuts, poor performance reviews, or unwarranted disciplinary actions. While employers rarely admit to retaliating against a worker, retaliation can be inferred from:
- Animus. If superiors were angered by the workers’ compensation filing, their actions may have been intended to punish the employee.
- Timing. Employer actions that occur immediately following a workers’ compensation filing are more likely to be seen as retaliatory.
- Deviation. If the employer’s treatment of their worker deviates from typical company policy, they may be guilty of retaliation.
Proving Employer Retaliation
Employees are legally protected against retaliation, provided that their workers’ compensation claim was truthful and filed in good faith. To win an employer retaliation claim, the injured employee must prove that the retaliatory action, such as termination or demotion, resulted from his workers’ compensation claim. To do so, the worker may need to demonstrate that:
- He was entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
- He filed for workers’ compensation benefits.
- He suffered an adverse employment action.
- His employer was motivated by the workers’ compensation claim to impose the adverse employment action.
Start Protecting Your Rights Today
If you’ve lost your job because your work-related injuries prevent you from working, your employer may be required to rehire you once you’ve recovered. Furthermore, if you’ve been punished by your employer for filing a workers’ compensation claim, you need an attorney to protect your rights. To learn more, contact the Injury & Disability Law Center by using the form on this page.