The Minnesota Workers' Compensation Act provides for benefits, such as wage replacement and medical care, to employees who are injured or become ill as a result of their job. An important aspect of this law is its anti-retaliation provision, which prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who seek to exercise their rights under the Act.
Minnesota Workers' Compensation Retaliation Attorney
Navigating cases involving workers’ compensation retaliation can be overwhelming. As a Minnesota employment law attorney, my goal is to treat you with empathy and respect while giving you realistic and transparent guidance. Employees and employers with questions regarding the law may start a case review or scheduled a consultation.
What is unlawful workers' compensation retaliation in Minnesota?
When employees are injured at work, they have the right to seek workers’ compensation benefits. The employer and their insurance company may perform an investigation and then one of three things are likely to happen:
The employee’s medical treatment is paid for and they are compensated for their lost wages.
The employee’s medical treatment is paid for but they are not compensated for lost wages.
The employee’s workers’ compensation claim is completely denied.
Minnesota employers are legally required to give employees the option to pursue workers’ compensation. Although it is not unlawful for a Minnesota employer to ultimately deny a workers’ compensation claim, the law prohibits employers from unreasonably obstructing and/or retaliating against an employee for pursuing workers’ compensation.
Under Minnesota law, an employee may have a case for a civil lawsuit if their employer and/or the employer’s insurance company obstructed or retaliated against the employee. There are two primary types of claims:
Retaliatory Discharge. An employer violates the law if they fire, or threaten to fire, an employee for pursuing workers’ compensation benefits. This is true even where an employee is injured and has not explicitly mentioned workers’ compensation.
Unlawful Obstruction. An employer and/or the employer’s insurance carrier also violate the law if they unreasonably obstruct an injured employee's pursuit of workers’ compensation benefits through means other than retaliatory discharge.
Potential examples of unlawful employer conduct might include cutting (or threatening to cut) pay, withholding (or threatening to withhold) advancement opportunities, and suspending (or threatening to suspend) an employee if the employee pursues benefits.
If an employer commits either of these offenses, they could be required to pay the employee for lost wages, emotional distress, attorneys’ fees and costs, and more.
Additionally, employers who violate the law can be required to pay a penalty of up to three times the value of the underlying workers’ compensation benefits, which cannot be offset by the benefits themselves.
If an employee believes they have suffered retaliation and/or obstruction, they should consider taking the following steps:
Document the retaliation/obstruction: The employee should keep detailed notes of the retaliatory and/or obstructionist actions of the employer, including dates, times, locations, people involved, and any witnesses.
Report the retaliation/obstruction: The employee might consider notifying a supervisor, HR representative, or another appropriate person in the company about the unlawful conduct. If doing so, employees should follow the employer's procedure for reporting, and keep a record of these reports.
Consult with an attorney: Employment law can be complex, and it's important to get advice from someone who understands the laws and can provide guidance based on the specific situation.
File a lawsuit: If the retaliation/obstruction is not resolved short of litigation, the employee may need to file a lawsuit.
Remember, these steps can vary depending on the situation, so it's crucial to consult with an employment attorney for advice tailored to the specific circumstances.