When employees are injured in the workplace they are often fearful of filing a workers compensation claim because they think the employer may retaliate by terminating their employment. However, it is illegal for employers to fire their employees because they filed such a claim. Nevertheless, employers may create other reasons for terminating the employment of their workers.
Title 34 of the New Jersey Statutes defines and regulates workers compensation, which is a type of ‘no-fault’ insurance program that pays wages and provides benefits to employees who have been injured during their employment. This means that an employee who has been injured will receive benefits despite who caused the injury. In return for the receipt of the benefits provided by workers compensation, the employee relinquishes the right to file a lawsuit against the employer, alleging negligence; an exception exists in cases involving intentional acts.
In New Jersey, employers are required to provide workers compensation. If an employee sustains a personal injury, or is killed because of an accident or occupational disease that occurs during his or her employment, the injured worker will receive workers compensation payments to be applied toward the worker’s medical care, and temporary disability benefits.
Although it is unlawful under New Jersey workers compensation law for an employer to discharge an employee for filing a workers compensation claim, an employer may terminate employment simply because the employee is an employee-at-will, which means the employer can fire the worker for any reason, or no reason. However, if you have an employment contract with your employer, then discharging someone may prove to be more problematic for the employer because acceptable reasons for termination are likely to be explicitly stated in the contract.
If you are considering filing a workers compensation claim, and are concerned about the possible repercussions, you should consult an experienced workers compensation attorney.