When you’ve suffered a work-related injury, you already have a lot to worry about. Being out of work even temporarily can be difficult and costly. Your physical pain is accompanied by lost wages and high medical bills.
That is precisely the reason why Arkansas, like most other states, established a workers’ compensation system. Under the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Law, injured workers are entitled to apply for and receive benefits including wage replacement, medical treatment, and vocational rehabilitation without having to go through the lengthy and uncertain litigation process.
But the system wouldn’t work if injured workers could get fired or otherwise suffer negative consequences from their employers just for exercising their rights under the Workers’ Compensation Law. That’s why Arkansas prohibits employers from terminating or retaliating against employees who file or pursue workers’ compensation claims.
Nevertheless, many Arkansas workers still find themselves on the receiving end of pink slips simply because they exercised their rights to seek workers compensation benefits. Even if the workers’ comp claim was only part of the reason the employer decided to terminate the employee, it is against the law.
In Arkansas, Retaliation Against Injured Employees Is a Felony
It is illegal for an employer in Arkansas to discharge or in any manner discriminate against an employee for filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits or otherwise exercising his or her rights under the workers’ compensation laws. An employer who violates this provision may be fined up to $10,000 and found guilty of a felony. Ark. Code Ann. § 11-9-107.
Retaliation Goes Beyond Just Termination
In addition to termination, the following are some of the acts that can also constitute illegal discrimination if it is shown that the employer was motivated because of a worker’s exercise of their rights:
- Poor performance review
- Failure to promote
- Reduction of wages
- Intimidation in the workplace
- Threats of adverse action
- Negative reassignment, reclassification or transfer
- Unreasonable increase or decrease in job duties
- Unwarranted disciplinary action
Proving Retaliation Can Be Difficult
Since most employers know that termination and other acts of retaliation are prohibited, it is rarely the case that an employer will come right out and say that they are terminating or taking other adverse action against an employee because they pursued workers’ compensation benefits. Proving wrongful retaliation usually requires the help of a skilled employment lawyer with experience handling retaliation claims. Consult with an experienced attorney to understand your rights and explore your options.
Kendall Law Firm: Knowledgeable, Dependable Employment Law Counsel
The Kendall Law Firm’s comprehensive employment law practice covers the full range of employment issues. Contact us today at (479) 464-9828 to speak with an employment law attorney.