The release of a workers' compensation claim is best written with both the injured employee and their employer in mind.
The following section provides an overview of what the document means for these parties and how it can resolve the claim. The legal consequences of the general release can be broad and binding, so it is vital to have experienced legal representation when negotiating a general release.
The general release of a workers' compensation claim often includes language that waives the right of an employee to bring a lawsuit against their employer for a wide range of reasons. The following unlawful employment practices are outlined briefly, but for more information on each law or statute, click on the link. If you believe your employer has broken the law, make sure to speak with a workers' compensation attorney and don't sign a release of your right to hold your employer accountable.
DiscriminationTitle VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects people from being discriminated against in the workplace based on their race, gender, religion, color, or national origin. The Americans with Disabilities Act added protection for disabled employees, while the Age Discrimination Act made it illegal for employers to hire, fire, or change a person's employment based on their age. A general release of a workers' compensation claim states that the employee cannot claim they were discriminated against in relation to the claim. It is important to understand what discrimination can be and how to recognize it.
RetaliationFlorida Statutes prohibit employers from retaliating against employees that file workers' compensation claims. Additionally, retaliation for filing a discrimination claim is illegal.
Emotional DistressThe intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress is a tort claim in the legal system. This means that an employer can be held liable for the trauma an employee experiences if they were not careful to prevent or resolve the situation. The employee may need to bring a separate suit against the employer in this situation, but the right to do so may be waived under a general release.
Contractual RelationsThe release may include a provision stating that the employee may not accuse to employer of "interference with contractual relations." This means that if another employee or a supervisor has intentionally interfered (perhaps untruthfully) with the plaintiff's employment, they cannot be held responsible. Waiving this right can have consequences to your professional life, so it is important to know what this tort claim means.
Good Faith & Fair Dealing
This type of claim has to do with contracts and how those involved will execute their duties. Employment is a form of contractual agreement, so it is possible for an employee to accuse their employer of violating the terms of the contract. This issue can get complicated by the fact that Florida is a right-to-work state.
Violation of Public PolicyIt is an unlawful employment practice to fire an employee for refusing to break a federal or state law. This violation of public policy varies from state to state, and Florida is no exception to confusing aspects. At-will employment and implied contracts make this a complicated area of the law to understand.
Breach of ContractEmployment contracts can be express or implied. If the contract is violated, the employee may be able to bring legal action against the employer. However, if the language of the general release states that this is no longer an option, then the employee may not be able to legally protect themselves if they are unfairly terminated.
Non-Payment of Wages, Overtimes, Bonus, etc.An employee is protected on federal and state levels when it comes to their compensation. If they have back pay, they may file a suit to reclaim these wages. In addition to the wages, they can sue for court costs and attorneys fees. If you have a workers compensation claim and are also dealing with pay issues, it is important to get this issue sorted out before signing a release. Consult the Coye Law Firm to resolve both of your issues after reading more about the issue.
Invasion of PrivacyPrivacy law regulates what type of personal information can be collected and how it will be used. In workers' compensation issues, this may involve employers violating privacy while to trying to gather information about the employee's injury and recovery. There can be varying levels of invasion of privacy.
DefamationWhen a person or other entity's character is compromised because of what another person has said or written, it is defamation. defamation is illegal because it can greatly compromise someone's professional or personal life. Those dealing with an at work injury and workers' compensation claim shouldn't deal with the emotional trauma that may arise from defamation.
Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)Employees' retirement plans are protects under the Employment Retirement Income Security Act or ERISA, which mandates that information and terms of the plans are made available to those who are interested. Pension and health benefit plans are not required by employers, but once they are set up, they must be regulated in accordance with erisa. The workers' compensation release may contain a provision stating that the employee cannot file suit for violation of erisa if they plan on retiring around the time of the settlement. This act is designed to protect employees, so don't waive this right until you know about it more fully.
UnemploymentIf a person loses their job through no fault of their own, they may be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. Federal laws allow states to run their own programs to temporarily help the unemployed. Because the law sets strict standards for who can receive unemployment, it is important to have the nature of your termination expressed correctly. If an employer terminated you for false reasons and it affects your ability to collect unemployment benefits, do not waive this right in a workers compensation claim.
Overlap with Personal Injury Protection Benefits
Some on-the-job injuries don't occur at a factory or restaurant. An employee driving a company car during their normal routine can be protected by two laws at the same time. Visit this page to determine how Personal Injury Protection and workers' compensation claims overlap and what it means for your recovery.
These employment practices can severely slow or damage your recovery from being hurt at work. The information on this page can be useful, but there is no substitute for a personal meeting to discuss your claim. Call the Coye Law Firm to speak with the experienced workers' compensation lawyer team who will examine your case and create a release tailored to your situation.