Workers Compensation & Sexual Harassment at Work
Workers’ compensation is designed to pay an employee who is injured on the job, to compensate them for their injuries. In California, all employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. The money paid to an injured employee covers the cost of medical treatments and pays a percentage of lost wages due to the injury. But, workers’ compensation does NOT pay a worker for the emotional distress, pain and suffering that may go along with the injury.
Virtually every employee in the state of California is covered by workers’ compensation, whether they are full time, temporary, or part-time. Independent contractors and even non-legal residents may receive some benefits. Workers’ compensation was designed to be the sole remedy for an injured worker to receive compensation for injuries sustained in the workplace.
Workers Compensation and Civil Rights Law Suits
With a very few exceptions, an injured worker CANNOT sue his or her employer in addition to a workers’ compensation claim for the injuries. However, if a worker is injured due to personal injury caused by a third party (someone other than the employer), or if his or her civil rights were violated, there may be recourse under the California Fair Employment Housing Act (FEHA).
Civil rights violations may include, among other things, sexual harassment, harassment, discrimination, or retaliation based on protected characteristics. Protected characteristics in California include race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion, sex, disability, age, genetic information, marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity/expression, certain medical conditions, political activities or affiliations, military, veteran or citizenship status, or status as a victim of domestic violence, assault, or stalking.
If you are a victims of workplace harassment, discrimination, or retaliation relating to one of the protected categories, you can make a workers’ compensation claim AND ALSO file a civil lawsuit. FEHA protects employees who are victimized by giving them the ability to sue their employers.
Dual Remedies for Sexual Harassment and Other Claims Under FEHA
Sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation in the workplace may contribute to or cause mental or physical injuries. While workers’ compensation may be available to pay for the physical injuries, it is not the only means for a victim to receive monetary compensation. In addition to filing a workers’ compensation claim, a civil lawsuit can also be initiated with respect to sexual harassment, harassment, discrimination, and/or retaliation.
While worker’s compensation usually takes the place of civil lawsuits which are based on workplace injuries, it only covers a risk or injury that would reasonably be expected in a normal workplace. Sexual harassment, harassment, discrimination, and retaliation are not considered normal risks of employment and are prohibited in the workplace in general. This allows an employee to file a claim for workers’ compensation and at the same time sue for civil damages caused by the sexual harassment, harassment, discrimination, and/or retaliation.
Fewer Limits in Civil FEHA Suits than in Workers Compensation Claims
The workers’ compensation system is limited to medical costs and a percentage of lost wages. It does not pay for things like emotional distress and other damages. Lawsuits brought as a result of FEHA violations, on the other hand, are not limited in that way, which allows victims of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation to be more fairly compensated for their damages.
An injured worker should discuss his or her case with an experienced attorney to decide whether workers’ compensation, civil litigation or both are their best remedy, considering the facts of the case.
If you were sexually harassed, or were retaliate or discriminated against, in the workplace, our Long Beach workers’ compensation attorneys are available to help you decide how to proceed.
Long Beach Workers Compensation Attorneys
If you were injured or made ill in the workplace, we recommend that you speak with an experienced workers comp attorney immediately. Even if you are currently receiving workers comp benefits, it is a good idea to get some legal advice to protect your rights going into the future.
An experienced workers compensation attorney can help you identify minor issues before they become major problems – and make sure that you not only receive your benefits now, but for years to come.
Your consultation with our workers’ compensation attorneys is 100% confidential, and neither your employer nor your insurance company will be notified that you requested a consultation with us. Our workers compensation attorneys will help you understand your rights, and work tirelessly to ensure that you receive the maximum benefits for which you qualify.
Call our Workers Compensation attorneys for a FREE CONSULTATION: 800-964-8047