Recently, an injured worker came into my office seeking a review of their workers’ compensation case. Upon review of the case, I determined that the worker had been fired for reporting the injury to their employer.
Unfortunately, in certain industries, termination of an injured employee is common practice. However, under North Carolina law- it is potentially illegal. Following a workplace fire in 1991 which killed 25 employees, and injured 49 others, North Carolina enacted the Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act.
Under the North Carolina Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act (REDA), it is illegal to: fire, suspend, demote, relocate, or take other adverse actions against an employee who participates in certain protected activities. Those activities include, but are not limited to filing a workers’ compensation complaint, and complaining of unsafe working conditions.
In order to bring a REDA complaint, the employee (called the “complainant”) must file the complaint with the North Carolina Employment Discrimination Bureau within 180 days of the last retaliatory or discriminatory act. The complaint must detail the alleged act, and the why the complainant believes it was taken. After the complaint is filed, the Employment Discrimination Bureau will begin an investigation, in which it contacts both the complainant and the employer.
If the employer is found to have willfully violated REDA, the court can triple the amount awarded for lost compensation and wages, or other economic damages caused by the violation. The court can also order that the complainant’s legal and attorneys’ fees be paid by the employer or their insurance company.
Suffering a workplace injury is never easy. No hardworking individual should ever lose their job because they reported an injury to their employer. Harman Law, PLLC aggressively and effectively represents their clients in all actions resulting from their injury. Call us today to schedule an evaluation of your case.