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Posted On 03.15.13 by in Blog
There is a new bill being considered by the Maryland legislature to further protect injured workers from workers compensation-related retaliation by their employers. If passed, this bill will help those employees when they are at their most vulnerable.
The Current Law
Maryland law currently protects employees from retaliatory firings. Labor & Employment § 9‑1105 provides:
(a) An employer may not discharge a covered employee from employment solely because the covered employee files a claim for compensation under this title
(b) A person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to a fine not exceeding $500 or imprisonment not exceeding 1 year or both.
The trick with the current law is twofold: First, the firing cannot be “solely” because a claim for compensation was made. Employers can still fire employees for any number of other reasons, including inability to do the job because of the work injury, or excessive missed time because of the injury. Second, it can be very difficult to prove the reason for a firing. Savvy employers know that they need to cover their tracks when making employment decisions, and it can be difficult to find that smoking gun that reveals the true reasons for a termination.
Fortunately, even terminated workers continue to be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
The Proposed Law
The new bill (Senate Bill 609), if passed, will offer protection against other types of retaliation, including demotion. It states that “An employer may not discharge a covered employee from employment or retaliate in any way against a covered employee because the covered employee files a claim for compensation under this title.” An employee who was retaliated against would be allowed to file a civil lawsuit against the employer to recover back pay, benefits, reinstatement and other damages.
Of course, employers and their lobbyists are fighting hard against this bill, calling it “anti-business.” (see: http://washingtonexaminer.com/maryland-workers-comp-bills-called-anti-business/article/2521998 ) To be fair, care will need to be taken to determine whether an employer’s action is in fact retaliation, but Commissioners and jurors would be able to figure that out. It’s not as hard as some business groups believe.
If you have questions about an on-the-job accident, contact our workers’ compensation lawyers at 1-800-776-4529, or online. We can help to answer your questions about your workers’ compensation case.
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