New Jersey Court Discusses Retaliation Claims in Workers’ Compensation Cases

Under New Jersey law, employers are required to provide employees that are injured at work with workers’ compensation benefits in most instances. Additionally, employers are prohibited from firing employees for filing workers’ compensation claims. Unfortunately, many employers choose not to abide by the law and will terminate employees for seeking benefits they are entitled to recover. If you were terminated after filing a workers’ compensation claim you might be able to assert additional claims against your employer, and it is in your best interest to speak to a dedicated New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff worked as a field account representative for the defendant, which required him to travel extensively. In November of 2016, the plaintiff was involved in a car accident while working, which caused him to sustain significant injuries including herniated discs. As such, he filed a workers’ compensation claim. He then learned from a co-worker that his manager was displeased that the plaintiff hired an attorney to represent him in his workers’ compensation claim.

Allegedly, the plaintiff reported that he was discriminated against for filing a workers’ compensation claim, after which the terms of his employment were changed. He was eventually terminated in November 2018. He then filed a lawsuit against the defendant asserting numerous claims, including retaliation in violation of New Jersey’s workers’ compensation law. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss numerous claims asserted by the plaintiff.

Claims Arising Out of Unlawful Termination Following a Workers’ Compensation Claim

Upon review, the court granted the defendant’s motion in part, but denied it in part as well. Specifically, the court ruled that the plaintiff adequately alleged that he was discriminated against and ultimately terminated for complaining about the disparate treatment and harassment he experienced after he filed his workers’ compensation claim, in violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. While the court found that the plaintiff’s allegations were sparse, they were nonetheless sufficient, as New Jersey case law established that as long as a complaint is filed pursuant to a good faith belief that the conduct in question violated the Law Against Discrimination, it is adequate to allow the plaintiff to pursue a claim.

With regards to the plaintiff’s failure to accommodate claim, however, the court declined to adopt the plaintiff’s assertion that his workers’ compensation claim, in and of itself, constituted a request for an accommodation. Rather, the court stated that under New Jersey case law, it was clear that a workers’ compensation claim is neither a modification of a person’s work environment nor a removal of any barriers in the workplace, and therefore cannot constitute a request for an accommodation. As such, as the plaintiff merely relied upon his workers’ compensation claim in support of his assertion that he requested an accommodation, his failure to accommodate claim was dismissed.

Meet with a Trusted New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Attorney

Although New Jersey is an at-will employment state, employees are nonetheless protected from being terminated for unlawful reasons, such as in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim. If you were fired after you were hurt at work and filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits you may be owed additional damages and should speak to an attorney. The trusted New Jersey workers’ compensation attorneys of The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can advise you of your rights and assist you in pursuing a claim for compensation from your employer. You can contact us at 800-999-0897 or via the form online to set up a meeting.

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