You were out of work for a workplace injury. You filed a workers' compensation claim and were awarded compensation. Now, you want to go back to work. You decided to leave your old job and are looking into new opportunities.
One of the things you're worried about is if you can get hired. After all, you had a claim in the past, so you could be seen as a risk, right?
Can an employer refuse to hire you because of a past workers' compensation claim?
No. Some states have specific laws that state that refusing to hire a prospective employee because they had a past workers' compensation claim is illegal. In other states, it's illegal to fire or demote an employee as a result of their making a workers' compensation claim.
Discrimination against those who had filed a claim in good faith is not only a bad practice, it's typically against the law. It's also against the law to discriminate against those with disabilities. Keep in mind that the protections provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act only protects those who work for employers with 15 or more employees.
Employers cannot ask you about your health history, in some ways, when you're going through an interview, either. For example, an employer shouldn't ask if you've been hurt at work in the past or if you have been to the hospital recently. They can't ask if you've been to rehabilitation or if you have an illness that you should "warn" them about. Any kind of conversation about your disabilities should be off the table, as should questions about workers' compensation claims.
What should you do if you weren't hired because of a past workers' compensation claim?
If you believe that an employer is discriminating against you because you have a disability or because you previously filed a workers' compensation claim, then you should keep documentation and provide any evidence you have to your Wauwatosa attorney. Your attorney will help you put together a case against the employer and seek compensation for their illegal acts.
In some cases, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission may step in to further support your claims against the employer and to penalize those who treated you unfairly. At the end of the day, your disability or past claims cannot be used against you or give an employer a reason to turn you away, unless the disability itself would make it unsafe for you to do the job.