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Woman Sues for Discrimination Related to Workers’ Compensation Claim

According to a recent news feature from the West Virginia Record, a woman is suing her employer for allegedly discriminating against her for filing a workers’ compensation claim. This claimant is a certified nursing assistant who was working in that capacity when she injured her lower back.

65901_hospital_corridor_3She injured her lower back when she was lifting a patient who had fallen to the floor. First, it should be noted that patient-lifting injuries are becoming increasingly common across the country, and healthcare centers should be taking proactive steps to curtail this problem.

One of the things hospitals and patient care centers can do is to purchase mechanical patient lifting aids for use by staff when having to lift a patient out of bed or even off the floor. These lifting aids have been around for years and have been shown to be quite effective in preventing on-the-job injuries.

However, as our Boston workers’ compensation attorneys have seen before, it is not enough for an employer to just purchase the lifting aids, as they must also train staff to use them and require that they be used. The reason for the need to make it mandatory to use these aids is that many older nurses were trained to lift patients by hand and are somewhat reluctant to use this new technology.

In this case, claimant filed for workers’ compensation after hurting her lower back while lifting the patient, and her application for benefits was denied. She stated in her complaint the reason her claim for workers’ compensation benefits was denied was because two people at the company claimed she (claimant) told them that her back injury was not work-related. However, in her complaint, she also asserted that is false and she never made a statement, as the accident was caused by lifting her patient off the floor.

She further alleges that she was terminated from her employment shortly after filing her workers’ compensation claim, and this is evidence that she was fired in retaliation for filing a valid claim. While this is completely illegal, it happens all the time, and people are wrongfully terminated. However, this does not mean that you should not file workers’ compensation claim after being injured on the job. It actually means that if you are wrongfully terminated in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim, you may have additional grounds for which to sue your employer.

As damages in her lawsuit, plaintiff has claimed compensatory damages, as well as punitive damages, court costs and fees, and other types of economic damages. In our legal system, compensatory damages are the standard measure of damages in most cases. This means, as the name suggests, an award of damages (money) designed to actually compensate a plaintiff for his or her loss. This can include pain and suffering. On the other hand, punitive damages are designed to be awarded in addition to punish a defendant to show that this type of conduct is unacceptable, and defendant should be sent a message so this doesn’t happen again the future.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Boston work accident, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

Princeton woman alleges discrimination after filing workers’ compensation claim, January 16, 2016, West Virginia Record, By Robbie Hargett

More Blog Entries:
Elevator Mechanic Killed when Falling Down Shaft, Jan. 24, 2015, Boston Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog