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An Illinois Worker Recovers $3.3M in Damages After His Employer Retaliated Against Him for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim

You have a lot of things that will inevitably worry you after you’ve suffered an injury at work. You may be worried about losing income. You may be worried about finding the right doctor to get the diagnosis you need. You may be worried about collecting all the paperwork you need for a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. One thing that you should not have to be worried about – but too many workers do face – is retaliation by your employer. If your employer does that, it may have violated the law and the retaliation itself may be a basis upon which you can recover compensation. An experienced Chicago workers’ compensation attorney can help you look at your situation and identify all of the legal ways that you might be able to obtain much-needed compensation.

An accident at a milk processing plant here in the greater Chicago area (and its aftermath) is an example of that kind of retaliation, and it resulted in a sizable damages award, according to a Northwest Herald report. R.J., a worker at the plant, suffered a neck injury in the fall of 2009. The employer’s doctor placed R.J. on lifting, pushing and pulling restrictions. R.J. continued on light duty until he took medical leave in early 2011 after losing strength in his left arm. R.J. did not work at the plant again. He was terminated in early 2016.

An employer can impermissibly retaliate against an employee injured on the job in many ways. For example, if you are injured in a workplace accident, you are entitled to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits and to do so free from punishment by your employer. If your employer takes adverse action against you for filing for workers’ compensation benefits, and you can prove that your workers’ comp claim triggered that action, then you can recover damages for retaliation.

Additionally, if you have suffered an injury in the past and have medical restrictions as a result, you are not required to accept an assignment from your employer that would force you to violate your restrictions. If your employer punishes you because you turned down work that was outside your restrictions, then that also can be a viable basis for a retaliation claim.

Both of those things were factors in R.J.’s case. The employer, according to R.J.’s legal team, retaliated against him for refusing “work that exceeded his medical restrictions” and for filing workers’ compensation claims, the Herald reported.

R.J. was able to give the court considerable proof that the employer acted impermissibly. That included “extensive evidence” that the employer “created inaccurate, staged photos and misleading documents to cover up their violations,” according to R.J.’s attorneys. On the basis of that proof, the jury found for the employee and awarded him a total of $3.3 million in damages.

Whether you need to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits or sue your employer for illegal retaliation that was tied to your workers’ comp claim, you need the right legal team representing you. The diligent Chicago workers’ compensation attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca are here to help. Our attorneys have been helping injured workers for many years, and have the resources and the know-how to get results. To set up a free case evaluation, contact us at 800-444-1525 or through our website.

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