When a New York employee suffers a workplace injury, he or she has the right to file a claim for workers' compensation benefits. When doing so, the employer cannot legally retaliate against the employee. The employee cannot be harassed, disciplined or fired for their involvement in a workplace accident, regardless of who is at fault. However, AT&T is currently under fire for allegedly disciplining four employees who were injured on the job and subsequently filed work-related accident claims.
The most recent case happened in Oct. 2012, when an employee was working at a residence and suffered a back injury. The employee got a performance notice, which could lead to a firing. A few months earlier, an employee twisted his ankle after stepping onto sunken pavement while making a house call. The man received a Level 2 written reminder for allegedly failing to follow AT&T's policy for slip, trip and fall prevention.
There were two other incidents in 2011. One man injured his knee, and the other broke his wrist. One received a performance notice, and the other received a below-average performance review.
The Department of Labor has sued AT&T, stating that the company illegally disciplined the employees and retaliated against them for reporting their injuries. AT&T, however, denies the allegations, stating that the employees were reprimanded for not following safety regulations and did not lose pay because of their accidents.
Employees should not live in fear of losing their jobs because they suffer workplace injuries. Those who believe that their employers have retaliated against them may be able to seek legal damages and receive compensation.
Source: The Wichita Eagle, "Labor Department sues AT&T, alleging retaliation for employees reporting injuries," Jerry Siebenmark, May 15, 2014