In North Carolina, if a worker files a workers’ compensation claim for benefits and then faces retaliatory acts by the employer for making that claim, the worker is protected by the Retaliatory Discrimination Employment Act (REDA). In order to bring a civil suit under that act, the worker must show three things: 1) that he or she had made a claim for or provided information related to a workers’ compensation benefits; 2) that a retaliatory action was taken against him or her; and 3) that the retaliatory action was prompted by the worker’s request for benefits.
A recent opinion by the Court of Appeals of North Carolina addressed the question of whether two particular acts constituted “retaliatory action.” The plaintiff in that case alleged that her employer had not allowed her to be treated by a particular doctor of her choice, and that the employer had not allowed her to return to work, after her injury, in a different position than the one she had held before. The Court held that neither of those acts constituted “retaliatory actions.”
While an employer’s refusal to approve treatment by a particular medical provider is not considered a type of retaliation under REDA, employees may petition (or ask) the North Carolina Industrial Commission to approve treatment with a provider chosen by the employee. A North Carolina workers’ compensation attorney would be able to assist workers through this petition process.
Consequences that would more typically be seen as retaliatory actions under REDA would be the termination of a worker’s employment; suspension; unjustified relocation; reduction of benefits; or other actions that would negatively impact the conditions of the worker’s employment.
Workers who believe that they have suffered a retaliatory action related to a workers’ compensation claim in North Carolina should call the Employment Discrimination Bureau to discuss their situation and the steps they need to take in order to file a complaint form; the complaint must be filed within 180 days of the date of the retaliatory action.
The North Carolina workers’ compensation attorneys at Lee & Smith serve clients in numerous locations throughout the state. For a free consultation regarding your workers’ compensation case, please contact us by phone or email.