Tag Archives: wrongful termination

Has Online Filing Added to OSHA Whistleblower Backlog?

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OSHA’s recent decision to allow employees to file whistleblower cases online has led to a large increase in filings and has added more delay to claims that were already backlogged before online filing. According to OSHA investigators, this increase in filings hasn’t been met with a proportionate increase in staff. One investigator estimated it takes over 400 days for OSHA to conclude investigating claims.

The delay created by the backlog hurts investigations for many reasons. Witnesses become unavailable, and recollections of events change. Unscrupulous employers also can use the delay to hide or destroy documents and intimidate witnesses.

Of course, employees who feel they have been retaliated against oftentimes have the option of filing a state or local fair employment agency claim on the basis of retaliation. Employees might also have the option of filing for retaliatory discharge without filing a fair-employment claim, as is oftentimes the case if they are fired for filing workers’ compensation. However, this summer the U.S. Supreme Court likely made many types of retaliation cases more difficult to win with their decision in the Nasser case. The court ruled in Nasser that employees claiming retaliation cases under federal Title VII must prove that exercising their rights under Title VII was a “but for” cause of their termination.

But under whistleblower laws under OSHA – such as the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA), which protects interstate truckers, and Dodd-Frank, which protects workers in the financial services industry – an employee must only show that their report of illegal conduct was a contributing factor to their termination.

Employees with a retaliation case should consult with an experienced employment attorney to determine the best forum for any wrongful-termination case.

Will I Be Able To Collect Unemployment Benefits?

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When people are hurt at work, they are often compelled to file for unemployment benefits. This may be because they are fired for not being able to do their job or end up quitting because they are no longer physically able to do their job.

If you quit, you will have to show that you did so with good cause. If you physically can no longer do your job because of your injury, that qualifies.

If you have been terminated, your employer may attempt to withhold unemployment benefits. To do this, your employer will have to demonstrate that you were terminated because of a misconduct on your part. Misconduct is intentional behavior by you. For example, if you are not performing at work even though you are medically capable of doing your job and have been told to improve, if you call in sick numerous times for unnecessary reasons, or if you don’t show up for work, these behaviors would qualify as misconduct.

Your employer would have to show documentation of these behaviors at an unemployment hearing. If documentation is not available and it comes down to your word versus your employer’s word, the likelihood is that you will win your case and will be able to collect unemployment benefits.

If you have questions about employment issues or unemployment benefits, our attorneys are licensed to practice in Nebraska and Iowa. I can also refer you to an expert attorney in another state if needed.

Should I report my work injury? I don’t want to get fired!

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In Nebraska, being fired for reporting your injury is against the law.

Many Nebraskan workers that have been injured on the job have probably had similar thoughts given today’s economy. However, there are protections for injured workers from getting fired for reporting a workers’ compensation injury. In fact, if you are fired for reporting a work injury, you may be entitled to damages as a result of your termination.

Nebraska is an “at will” employment state. In other words, you may be fired for any reason unless you have an employment contract or you are fired in a discriminatory or retaliatory manner.

You may also be able to recover damages from your employer for being fired for retaliation from your employer. 

For example, most people know that you cannot be fired on the basis of: Race, Religion, Ethnicity, Disability, Age, or Gender. If you are fired for these reasons, there are Federal and State laws to allow you to sue your employer.

On the other hand, not everyone knows that you may also be able to recover damages from your employer for being fired for retaliation from your employer. Continue reading