Under North Carolina’s Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act (REDA), workers who file a workers’ compensation claim are protected from retaliation by their employers [§ 95-241(a)(1)(a)]. This means that your employer cannot fire, demote, or change your employment situation for the worse because you file a workers’ compensation claim.
However, North Carolina employers do not have to have a reason to fire you. There are very few activities that actually qualify as discrimination due to HB2.
If you do lose your job after you were injured, that does not stop you from being able to file a workers’ compensation injury. However, your rights depend on your particular circumstances, so you should consult with a qualified North Carolina worker’s compensation attorney who can advise you on your situation.
There are a couple of factors to consider before you file a claim:
1. Do you have a valid worker’s compensation claim?
Just because you were injured on the job does not automatically mean you have a workers’ compensation claim. This may seem odd to many people, as most people think “if I was injured while at work, it is automatically workers’ compensation.” This is not true. Only injuries that are caused by an accident are workers’ compensation claims in North Carolina.
This means there must be something outside of your usual work routine which caused the injury. Sometimes it’s a close question whether the injury occurred from an accident or from your regular work duties, so consulting with an experienced North Carolina worker’s compensation attorney can provide guidance.
Some of the most common types of accidents covered by workers’ compensation are overexertion, bodily reaction, and slips, trips, and falls. Further, if a back injury arises out of a specific traumatic incident, regardless of whether there is an accident, it will be a workers’ compensation claim.
2. You must give your employer notice of the injury, preferably in writing.
This factor will likely be important when filing a claim after termination. If you are terminated and then file a workers’ compensation claim 6 months later, your claim might be time barred. If the employer did not know about the injury because you failed to provide notice, it would be unfair to the employer for you to file a claim months after leaving the company.
If you were fired from your job after filing a workers’ compensation claim, you may have been wrongfully terminated. North Carolina has laws in place to protect employees from being retaliated against when filing workers’ compensation claim.