Posted By Charles J. Cochran, Jr. on March 21, 2009
Over the past month I have spoken to two separate individuals in regard to a problem which they were having with their Worker’s Compensation Claim and their Employer. In each instance the individuals claimed that because they had filed a Worker’s Compensation claim their Employer had treated them differently and in each instance over 90 days had passed from the time that the act occurred which the employee is complaining of. I have practiced in this area for over 18 years now and it seems that these problems most often arise when you are dealing with one of the smaller sized employers. That is not to say that a larger employer will not take this type of action but that it appears training is better and of course many have their own Human Resources departments which are usually well aware of the law in Ohio. Employers are looking a lot closer at workers compensation claims since the costs of premium have in many situations quadrupled over the past few years.
In Ohio it as a violation of the law for an employer to discharge, demote or take punitive action against you just because you filed a Worker’s Compensation claim. (ORC 4123.90) However if an employer takes this type of action against you the time is very short for you to act or you will be unable to make your claim because you ran out of time. You only have 90 days from the date when the action was taken to send the Employer written notice which specifically describes the action which you are complaining about. This may not be a great problem where an employer terminates you because you filed a workers compensation claim and then you go right to a attorney who is trained in this area and you have explained the situation to them. Hopefully, the attorney that you speak with has enough experience in the area to recognize that the termination date started the 90 day clock running and they may act upon it immediately to preserve your claim. But it is often the case where an individual is mistreated during the course of their employment and they keep trying to work through the situation until finally they become so disgusted with it that they quit their employment. Then the question arises whether the discriminatory act which occurred started on the date of the quit or the actual date when the action which caused the quit occurred. You really did not want to be in that situation since there is a very good chance that any court or agency that looks at this will look back at the first action, where there is not an ongoing series of actions, and say that is the date when the 90 day period started.
Under this statute, assuming that you met the 90 day requirement, then you have a total of 180 days within which any action must be commenced. You can see by the short time periods that if you believe that you have been treated in a wrongful manner by your employer because you filed a workers compensation claim you need to see an attorney immediately to find out what your rights really are. With economic times as they are many employees try to overlook the employers misdeeds because they fear for their job. This situation makes it a lot easier for an employer to string the problem along and an employee not to wish to make waves. This is truly a situation where you have to make your mind up at an early time and act immediately.