West Virginia's workers and employers participate in a statutorily mandated insurance program that provides immunity from civil lawsuits (in most cases) where workplace accidents occur, regardless of the fault of the worker or employer. This is known generally as "Worker's Compensation" or "worker's comp" and found in Chapter 23 of the West Virginia Code.
In exchange for the employer's immunity from civil lawsuit, the injured worker receives (insurance) coverage and benefits to compensate him for what he/she has lost. It is a trade off between employers and employees because "hey, accidents happen." And when they do, the employer is immune, the employee gets the coverage and medical treatment they need until they are able to recuperate and get back to work. Right?
Well, what happens when an employer, management, HR, or someone in authority fires or retaliates against the injured employee because they filed a claim for the benefits that they are entitled to?
West Virginia Code 23-5A-1 states that "[n]o employer shall discriminate in any manner against any of his present or former employees because of such present or former employee's receipt of or attempt to receive benefits under this chapter."
W. Va. law is clear! If an employer terminates an injured worker, reduces his/her position, reduces wages, reduces hours, eliminates privileges, or takes some other similar negative discriminatory / retaliatory action against the employee, then that conduct is illegal. That particular type of conduct is outrageous and should not be condoned. It is important that you report the illegal conduct immediately so that a plan or action can be developed to confront and rectify the illegal behavior. If you or someone you know has been the victim of workers compensation discrimination / retaliation, then give us a call at (304) 245-9097 and we can discuss your case in further detail. As always, for matters such as these, consultations are free.