Workers in Connecticut who are injured on the job are legally protected against discrimination and retaliation from their employers when they file claims for workers' compensation benefits. Violations may result in civil lawsuits for job reinstatement, payment of back wages, reestablishment of benefits, payment of attorneys' fees and even punitive damages.
To prove a violation of this law, a worker must present sufficient evidence to support a finding that the employee engaged in this protected activity of seeking benefits, that the employer was aware of this activity, that the employer took adverse action such as termination against this worker and that a retaliatory motive played a part in the adverse employment action.
If the employee meets this burden, an employer may rebut the claim by producing evidence of a legitimate and non-discriminatory reason for its employment action. The worker can then present evidence that this explanation should not receive credibility, such as the retaliation taking place near the time that the workers' compensation claim was filed.
Connecticut's appellate court recently ruled that an injured worker could pursue a discrimination claim when the employer suspended and later fired her after she filed for workers' compensation benefits. The court considered the employer's allegation that the employee was suspended and later terminated for stealing non-saleable returned products. However, the employer may have retaliated against this worker if the worker could show that other employees violated the policy against taking these products and that the employer selectively enforced this policy against this worker. Employees who suffer a work accident may face numerous legal and factual issues while seeking lost wages and other damages.
Source: Connecticut Workers' Compensation Commission, "General Statutes § 31-290a" and Connecticut Judicial Branch Law Libraries, "Barbee v. Sysco Connecticut, LLC (AC 36564, April 28, 2015)", Retrieved April, 24, 2015