An important question was up for debate amongst Maryland legislators this month who have long since argued over creating equality between workers' rights and employers' rights. The question posed was: are employees who file workers' compensation claims really as protected from wrongful termination as they thought?
Although this blog focuses on personal injury and not employment rights, this question highlights a persistent issue facing workers in our state. Workers who are injured on the job, though protected from retaliation by the law, often times have a hard time preventing termination of employment because they have to prove their claim was the only reason they were fired. This brings up another important question: are employees not reporting injuries because they feel threatened with the thought of losing their job as a result?
A Maryland legislative discussed current efforts to prevent this from happening but contentions are running high with both sides weighing in on the issues. Workers' rights activists feel that the new law-which would prevent employers from striking back at employees who file workers' compensation claims-can give employees a better sense of security when it comes to filing claims.
Business supporters disagree, arguing that the new bill would open the flood gates to fraudulent claims. Some would point out however that if a person was injured on the job because of unsafe working conditions and this could be proven then no fraudulent claim could be filed in the first place.
According to many attorneys in the state, although current laws appear to be protecting workers' rights when filing injury reports, the application of these laws is flimsy at best leaving many people to suffer from injuries they deserve compensation for. Many people across the state hope that legislators can come to some agreement that can benefit both businesses as well as employees.
Source: The Washington Examiner, "Maryland workers' comp bill called 'anti-business'," Andy Brownfield, Feb. 19, 2013