What does state law have to say about discrimination in workers’ comp cases?

Recently, we spoke about a lawsuit recently filed by a West Virginia worker who alleged that his employer routinely discriminated against employees who attempted to exercise their right to workers’ compensation. West Virginia law, to be sure, prohibits employers from discriminating in any fashion against present or past employees due to their receipt or attempt to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Here we wanted to take a brief look at what state law says on the matter on two important points: health insurance and termination.

With respect to health insurance, employers are not allowed to cancel the policy, decrease participation on behalf of the employee or his dependents, or decrease the employee’s coverage during the time an employee is receiving workers’ compensation benefits for a temporary disability. That being said, an employee is allowed to change insurance carriers, or reduce or cancel medical coverage, so long as other employees in the same class are treated the same.  

When it comes to termination of an injured employee who is receiving or seeking to receive workers’ compensation benefits, it is simply prohibited. State law specifically prohibits employers from terminating injured employees while they are off work and receiving temporary total disability benefits. The only situation where this would be permissible is when there is a separate dischargeable offense, which generally refers to misconduct unrelated to the injury or absence.