Here in Florida, those who suffer on-the-job injuries, occupational illnesses or other workplace-related health issues have the right to report these issues to their employers as well as seek workers' compensation benefits. Such benefits typically cover medical expenses and related lost wages, among other things. While workers' compensation law is quite complicated, one very simple and straight-forward area of the law states that workers cannot be terminated for reporting injuries.
In a recent case that is taking place in Washington state, nine employees of a gun range say that they were fired for filing workers' compensation claims when they sustained lead poisoning. They have now sued the employer for wrongful termination. They have also accused the employer of failing to provide suitable safety equipment, among other things.
The employees were reportedly made to sift through soil at the range to reclaim bullets. The soil was reportedly full of lead as well as other toxic types of chemicals, and the workers were asked to do this work at night so that they would not be detected by safety or environmental authorities.
According to the lawsuit, the work that the employees were asked to do is in violation of both the state's safety standards and federal safety standards. The workers reportedly raised concerns about the safety of the work, and the employer reassured them that the project had been approved by various labor agencies.
When the workers suffered lead poisoning, they filed complaints and sought workers' compensation benefits, and they then say that they were fired in retaliation.
When workers are fired in retaliation for filing a workers' compensation claim or reporting an injury--even if the accident was not caused by the employer--it may be possible to file a wrongful termination lawsuit. Doing so is a way to hold the employer accountable and obtain compensation for damages.
Source: Courthouse News Service, "Fired for Getting Lead Poisoning, Nine Say," June Williams, Feb. 14, 2013
- For more information about your employment rights here in Florida, please visit our Broward County employment law firm's Employee Rights page.