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New Injured Worker Job Protections Effective August 10, 2016

The Illinois Worker’s Compensation Act has long protected injured workers from job loss retaliation when exercising rights under the Illinois Worker’s Compensation Act.  The law firm of Katz Nowinski P.C. regularly represents employees who have been illegally fired as a result of worker’s compensation injuries and claims.  Although the actual statute prohibits “retaliation” against employees for the exercise of their rights, state courts have narrowly construed the anti-retaliation provisions to allow lawsuits only for retaliatory terminations. Thus, employers have been allowed to reduce an employee’s hours and take other retaliatory action against employees who have pursued their rights to compensation for work injuries.

Now, however, newly proposed Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, expected to become law on August 10, 2016, will provide additional protections to injured workers under federal law.  The regulations, located at 29 CFR Part 1904, contain new requirements that prohibit employers from firing an employee who reports work related injuries or illnesses, and also prohibits any other manner of discrimination against employees reporting injuries. As a result, injured workers (and even non-injured workers who report co-worker’s injuries) may have supplemental federal job protections.  In addition, employers will be required to not only inform employees of the employer’s work injury/illness reporting policy and procedures,  but employers must also inform the employees of two specific federal rights:  1.  the right to report work-related injuries and illnesses; and 2. that employers are prohibited by law from firing or discriminating against employees, in any manner, for such reporting.

The lawyers at Katz Nowinski P.C. stand ready, willing and able to assist workers who are denied these basic rights.  We routinely file workers’ compensation retaliation lawsuits and other wrongful discharge and illegal firing suits.  This new federal option will expand the potential venues and remedies available to our clients, including those new rights resolved within OSHA’s compliance program.  New procedures include OSHA Compliance Safety and Health Officer Investigations, administrative law judge appeals and final oversight by the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.  New remedies include reinstatement, removal of disciplinary records from personnel files and payment to an employee discriminated against by employers who abuse the law.

Questions?  Please contact our employment law department or attorney John F. Doak at 309-797-3000 or email John at  jdoak@katzlawfirm.com

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