Visitor Question

Can a boss fire an employee for having too many Worker’s Comp claims?

Submitted By: Travis (Vancouver, Washington)

My girlfriend has had to file a workers comp claim against her employer 3 times in the last 15 years. After the third time she was told by her boss very clearly, “If you file another claim, I will fire you.”

From what I have read, this is completely illegal in Washington state. Now she is having a shooting pain from her neck/shoulder to her hand. She believes it is from the type of work they currently have her doing. But she refuses to see a doctor, out of fear of being fired.

So my question is, what is the best course of action here? I assume legal action would result in it being her word against his, and we wouldn’t get very far. Thanks.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Travis,

It is illegal for a Washington State Employer to discharge an employee for filing a workers compensation claim. There is no limitation on the number of claims which can be filed by an employee.

Your girlfriend’s decision not to seek medical care can only serve to work against her. She has a duty to mitigate the aggravation of the injury. This means if she knows she is injured and fails to seek immediate medical treatment and the injury worsens, the employer may not be liable for paying the additional amount of money required to treat the aggravation of the injury.

It is not your girlfriend’s word against her employer’s. As long as your girlfriend notified her employer or supervisor at the time of the latest injury and it is work-related, your girlfriend has a legitimate workers compensation injury.

In the event your girlfriend is refusing to seek medical treatment because she fears termination, it would be appropriate for her to contact the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries to file a complaint. Start by going to Washington State Department of Labor and Industries website, and check out the “Termination” page.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: October 19, 2017

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