In today’s economy many people are concerned that if they report injuries after an on the job accident that they may lose their job. People generally question the meaning of Texas being a “Right to Work” state. Right to work generally refers to laws that deal with the use of unions in negotiations with the employer. Under Texas Labor Code Title III, Texas holds that individuals or groups may bargain with their employers for their employment status. So, Right to Work, in reality is the right of your employer to fire you at any time. If you are not a union worker, there may be a collective bargaining agreement that protects you.
However, the Texas Labor Code §451 states that an employer may not discriminate against or fire an employee for filing a workers compensation claim in good faith, hiring a lawyer to represent them for their claim, starting the hearing process for a claim or testifying in hearing about a claim.
Therefore, your employer may not discriminate against you, or fire you for pursuing your Texas Workers’ Compensation claim.
Sustaining a work related injury in Texas can be difficult and wrought with problems–navigating the Division of Workers’ Compensation, dealing with the claims adjuster, and finding a medical provider are just a few of the problems facing injured workers. One of the common but most ignored problems involves the discrimination an employee faces from an Employer after filing a workers’ compensation claim. Many employees are discharged shortly after filing a workers’ compensation claim, which creates all new problems for the injured employee once the workers’ compensation injury resolves. Moreover, many employees receive demotions, reduced hours, or reduced pay after a claim is filed. However, the Texas Labor Code provides protection for injured workers from retaliatory and discriminatory behavior by Employers and specifically prevents certain conduct by Employers.
Section 451 of the Texas Labor Code specifically prohibits anyone, including an Employer, from firing or discrimination against an employee because the employee (1) filed a workers’ compensation claim in good faith; (2) hired an attorney; (3) instituted an administrative proceeding in the DWC; or (4) testified or is about to testify in a Division of Worker’s Compensation Benefit Review Conference or a Benefit Contested Case Hearing.
If an Employer violates or takes any action contrary to Section 451, the employee has a cause of action against the Employer. This lawsuit is separate and distinct from the workers’ compensation claim and does not involve the insurance carrier or the DWC. This lawsuit is also separate from the Federal Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) and does not involve any Federal claims, making the case fairly simple and straight forward. An injured worker can seek monetary damages for the lost income and the value of lost fringe benefits (such as health insurance) that resulted from the discharge or discriminatory action.
If you have any questions about a wrong termination claim, do not hesitate to contact us at our Dallas office (214)357-1782, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org , or www.themorrisfirm.net .
The FMLA applies to all public agencies and to private sector employers who employ 50 or more employees for at least 20 weeks in the current or proceeding calendar year. Covered employers must post a notice explaining employee’s rights and employer’s responsibilities under the FMLA. To be eligible for FMLA benefits, an employee must:
1) Work for a covered employer;
2) Have worked for the employer for a total of 12 months;
3) Have worked at least 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months; and
4) Work at a location where at least 50 employees are employed by the employer within 75 miles.
A covered employer must grand an eligible employee up to a total of 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 12 month period for one or more of the following reasons:
1) The birth and care of a newborn child of the employee;
2) The placement of a son or daughter with the employee for adoption or foster care;
3) To care for a spouse, child or parent with a serious health condition;
4) To take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition (including work related injuries); or
5) For “qualifying exigencies” arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, child or parent is on active duty or call to active duty status as a member of the National Guard or Reserves, or is a member of the regular military and is deployed to foreign ground.
If insurance was provided to an employee before leave is taken, an employer is required to maintain group health insurance coverage for that employee during any FMLA leave. Upon return from FMLA leave, an employee must be restored to his or her original job, or to an equivalent job with equivalent pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment.