One of the biggest concerns weighing on a worker’s mind when they suffer a work injury in Iowa is: “If I report it, will I lose my job?” The short answer is – not necessarily.
In Iowa, it is illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee for bringing a workers’ compensation claim. But, as you probably know, employers don’t always follow the law. If you believe your employer has retaliated against you for filing a work comp claim, you should contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer.
A work injury may result in the loss of your job simply because you are no longer able to physically do it. Injured workers are often surprised to hear that there is nothing in our workers’ compensation laws that protect your job after a work injury.
Should I Report an Iowa Work Injury?
While there are exceptions, generally we advise our clients that they should report any work injury to their employer. We believe the risk of an unfair firing is low compared to the benefits you can receive from filing the work comp claim.
Workers’ compensation benefits can be your lifeline when you have an injury that requires medical care or temporarily takes you out of work. These benefits are even more important when you suffer an injury that is going to permanently impact your ability to work. It is a risky gamble to walk away from those Iowa workers’ compensation benefits when you’re unsure how long you will be off work, how much medical care you will need, or whether you’ll be able to return to your job.
Unfortunately, there are very short deadlines and specific requirements for reporting a work injury in Iowa. You only have 90 days from the date of the injury to tell a supervisor that:
- You were hurt, and
- Your injury happened because of your work.
That deadline can be extended in some situations, but it is rare. That means you’ll need to make a decision whether to report your work injury fairly quickly.
There are some other things to consider before you make your decision.
Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and Workers’ Compensation
Even though Iowa’s work comp laws don’t hold your job open after a work injury, a federal law may. If you:
- Are a government employee, or
- Your employer has at least 50 employees, and
- If you’ve worked enough hours for the employer, you may fall under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
This act is designed to hold your job open for up to 12 weeks while you are medically unable to perform your job. This law doesn’t require the employer to pay you for that time, but it does require they keep your job open for you. There is certain paperwork to fill out to use FMLA, and your doctor will have to provide documentation that you cannot work.
Iowa Workers’ Compensation Claims and Job Security
Sometimes, having an open workers’ compensation claim can provide some job security. If you have what is called a “body as a whole” injury, your employer may have incentive to keep you employed because it limits how much they pay you in workers’ compensation benefits.
This is especially true if you were injured after July 1, 2017. Iowa’s new workers’ compensation laws greatly limit workers’ compensation benefits when an employer brings the employee back to work. So, in some situations, bringing a claim may actually help you keep your job.
Will You Be Fired For Hiring an Iowa Workers’ Compensation Attorney?
People ask me, “If I hire a lawyer, will they fire me for that?”
Again, it’s not legal for the employer to retaliate against you for bringing a work comp claim. Also, if the employer or workers’ compensation insurance company knows that you have someone looking out for your rights, they may be less likely to violate them.
Employers and their insurance carriers have lawyers advising them about workers’ compensation laws. It’s important for injured workers to have that option too.
Each work injury situation is different. At RSH Legal, we give our clients an honest answer about whether to pursue a workers’ compensation claim given their specific circumstances. But remember – there is a very short deadline and specific requirements for reporting a work injury in Iowa. If you have questions about your rights, contact RSH Legal today at 1-319-774-1542.