The purpose of the workers’ compensation system in California is to make sure that employees receive financial compensation in the event they are injured while working. The law recognizes that employers need to be taking steps to reduce the risk of injury to their employees, while also recognizing that an injury must be work-related in order for an employer to be responsible for the injuries to the employee. After an employee is injured, there are additional laws that come into play in addition to the traditional workers’ compensation laws that typically come to mind associated with medical treatment and documentation. California Labor Code 132(a) is an essential provision that all employers must be aware of and with which they need to ensure compliance.
California Labor Code § 132a provides that an employer may not discriminate or take adverse action against an employee who has filed a workers’ compensation claim. If an employee suffers discrimination, retaliation, or adverse employment action by virtue of the fact that he or she has filed such a claim, the employer may face severe civil penalties and fines. It is possible for an employer to discharge an employee even with a workers’ compensation suit filed, but it is essential that employer have reasons to back up a legitimate discharge or negative employment action.
The public policy behind 132a is fairly straightforward. The law is designed to make sure that employees may exercise their rights under the workers’ compensation system following a work-related injury without fear of retaliation from an employer. In fact, the law itself contains the statement that “It is the declared policy of this state that there should not be discrimination against workers who are injured in the course and scope of their employment.” Without the protections provided by 132a, an employer would be free to simply fire any employee who decided to seek compensation for a work-related injury. With such a strong deterrent, it is likely that few if any workers would actually seek relief under workers’ compensation. As a result, unscrupulous employers would also have less incentive to ensure work place safety. Workers’ compensation and 132a help to make sure that workers are safer and the system is not stacked against the employees.
Labor Code 132a is an essential provision of workers’ compensation and you need to make sure your business is in compliance. I have experience helping clients both prevent 132a claims against their businesses as well as defending such claims. Contact me today at (714) 516-8188 to talk about your business.