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You can seek workers’ compensation benefits without fearing retaliation if you suffer a workplace injury.

The law requires work-related injuries to be covered under workers’ compensation insurance.

Minnesota law also protects employees from retaliation by their employers in response to filing such a claim.

If you were recently injured on the job and believe you were let go out of retaliation for filing a workers’ comp claim, contact the Criminal Defense Attorney & Workers Compensation Law Offices of Arechigo & Stokka immediately to discuss your options.

What Is Retaliatory Discharge?

The retaliatory discharge definition is broad. Retaliatory discharge refers to an employer terminating an employee as punishment for exercising their legally protected rights.

In other words, if your boss fires you because you demand proper pay or because you filed a workers’ comp claim—they have discharged you in retaliation for a legally protected act.

Such discharge is wrongful. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, retaliation is one of the most frequently alleged bases of discrimination. 

Minnesota Retaliatory Discharge Claim

There are several ways in which an employer can take retaliatory action against an injured employee. Firing the employee is only one such action.

As a less drastic but still retaliatory act, the employer could cut the employee’s hours, demote them, fail to promote them, fail to allow them time to seek medical treatment, or merely threaten to let the employee go.

In Minnesota, there are remedies for employees illegally discharged from employment. 

Under the Minnesota retaliatory discharge workers’ compensation statute, there are generally two courses of action to collect civil damages.

Retaliatory Discharge

Under part one of the statute, an employer is liable in a civil action if they:

  • Discharge or threaten to discharge an employee for seeking workers’ compensation benefits, or 
  • Intentionally obstruct an employee from seeking workers’ compensation benefits.

The employee can seek damages from the employer for any reduction in workers’ compensation benefits caused by a violation of this section, including:

  • Costs and reasonable attorney fees, and
  • Punitive damages not to exceed three times the amount of any compensation benefit to which the employee is entitled. 

Any damages awarded are in addition to any workers’ compensation benefits to which the employee is entitled. In other words, the damages cannot be offset by the employee’s workers’ compensation benefits.

The statute makes even mere threats of discharge actionable. If you are injured on the job, and your employer did not fire you but threatens to do so, they might be liable.

Refusal to Offer Continued Employment

The second part of the Minnesota statute states an employer who, without reasonable cause, refuses to offer continued employment to its employee when work is available within the employee’s physical limitations shall be liable in a civil action for one year’s wages up to a maximum of $15,000. 

These payments are in addition to other payments provided by this chapter and cannot be offset by other benefits. 

It’s important to note that this section of the statute does not apply to employers who have 15 or fewer full-time equivalent employees.

Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Attorneys 

What is retaliatory discharge, and is this what I am experiencing? If you are wondering about this issue, we are here to answer your questions.

At Arechigo & Stokka, we have represented hundreds of clients on various workers’ compensation matters.

If you are injured on the job, you have rights. Being hurt at work is scary enough. Being unsure if you will have an income while recovering is unacceptable.

Let us put our decade of experience to work for you. Contact our office to schedule an initial appointment.

Our team looks forward to speaking with you.

Author Photo

Joshua R. Stokka

Josh has been representing injured workers for over 10 years. Josh was born and raised in Fargo, North Dakota, and attended the University of Minnesota-Duluth where he earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Criminology. Mr. Stokka alson received his law degree from the Hamline University School of Law. During law school, Josh clerked at a Minnesota law firm specializing in personal injury and workers’ compensation. Prior to practicing in the area of workers’ compensation, Josh clerked for a judge in the 7th Judicial District in Minnesota. This valuable experience gave him insight into how judges think, do their jobs behind the scene, and how to frame a case in order to obtain a favorable result.  Now, he focuses 100% of his practice on defending injured workers in Minnesota.

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