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Court Discusses Elements of a New Jersey Workers' Compensation Retaliation Claim


When a New Jersey employee suffers an injury at work, he or she will often be entitled to recover workers’ compensation benefits. In some instances, however, an employer may terminate an injured employee in an attempt to avoid paying the employee benefits. Employees who are fired following an injury may be able to pursue retaliation claims against their employers. Recently, a New Jersey court explained what an employee must prove to recover under a workers’ compensation retaliation claim in a case in which the employee’s claim was dismissed. If you lost your job following an injury in the workplace, you may be able to pursue claims against your employer and should consult a knowledgeable New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney regarding your rights.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the employee worked as a member of the kitchen crew for the employer, a college in New Jersey. He typically worked about twenty-five hours per week. In September 2015, he suffered a burn when another employee failed to alert him that he was passing by with a hot pan. He subsequently went to the hospital, where he received a tetanus shot and was released without further treatment. The employee then sought and received workers’ compensation benefits. In December 2015, the employee was advised his hours were being reduced due to decreased enrollment in the college. He was offered additional evening hours but chose not to accept them, and voluntarily ended his employment. He then alleged that he was constructively terminated in retaliation for his workers’ compensation claim, and filed a lawsuit against the employer alleging relation and other claims. The employer filed a motion for summary judgment as to the retaliation claim, which the trial court granted. The employee then appealed.

Elements of a New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Retaliation Claim

The New Jersey Workers’ Law prohibits employers from taking adverse action against employees who pursue workers’ compensation benefits for injuries incurred at work. An employee alleging that he or she was fired in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim must show that he or she made or attempted to make a claim for workers’ compensation benefits and that he or she was either actually or constructively discharged in retaliation for making a claim.

In the subject case, the trial court found that the employee voluntarily chose to stop working because he did not like his new work schedule, which was neither unconscionable nor outrageous. Thus, the trial court found that the employee failed to demonstrate a link between his claim for workers’ compensation benefits and any retaliatory action by his employer. The appellate court agreed with the trial court’s reasoning and affirmed the dismissal of the employee’s workers’ compensation retaliation claim.

Confer with a Trusted New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Attorney

If you were terminated after you suffered an injury in the workplace, it is in your best interest to contact an attorney to discuss what claims you may be able to pursue against your employer. The trusted New Jersey workers’ compensation attorneys of The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall are proficient at helping employees who were fired after they were hurt at work. We will seek justice for your losses, and we will zealously advocate on your behalf. You can reach us through our form online or at (934) 200-5372 to schedule a meeting.