What do we mean by harassment and intimidation tactics? It can be hard to sort fact from fiction in the whirlwind of documents and meetings that follow an accident, illness, or injury. Although there are many ways—both subtle and not so subtle—an employer might try to keep you from pursuing a work injury claim, the following are some of the most common:
- Pressuring you not to seek medical care or prescription treatment. Your employer may try to talk you out of seeing a doctor or recommend that you try over-the-counter remedies instead. They may tell you that you have to see a company doctor and can’t follow up with a doctor of your own. If you don’t feel like you’re getting the medical care you need, see your own doctor as soon as possible, and then talk to an attorney about what your rights really are.
- Pressuring you not to file a claim or report an injury. If you don’t fill out an injury report immediately, or if you wait too long to file a claim, it may be impossible for you to pursue compensation for your injuries. However, that doesn’t stop employers or supervisors from trying to talk you out of reporting that you got hurt or telling the truth about how it happened.
- Threatening you with disciplinary action. Your employer may try to take action against you after you have been injured, sometimes blaming you for causing the accident, claiming you have a history of accidents, or otherwise threatening formal discipline. They may go through your employment records to drag out anything in the past they can twist around and use against you now.
- Threatening you with the loss of your job. Some people who have been hurt at work are even threatened with losing their jobs because of the injury or accident. They’re told they’ll be fired if they report the injury, or they may be pressured to return to work too soon in order to remain employed.
- Intimidating you with embarrassment and social pressure. Some employers are not above using your coworkers against you, posting publicly about your injury, and using other underhanded tricks to minimize your claim or make it out like you’re the bad guy just for getting hurt.
- Pressuring you to settle for less. You may be pressured to accept the settlement the company wants to give you, often long before they’ve recovered or know the full extent of your injuries. The insurance company or your employer may harass you over the phone, give you misleading information, or use other tactics to make you feel like you don’t have other options and must accept their offer, even if it isn’t enough to help you recover.
If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone—it happens to a lot of people—and you should know that you do have options. You don’t have to put up with these kinds of intimidation tactics because you were hurt at work. Many employees are mistreated by their employers after they are hurt or become ill, no matter what kind of industry they work in. If you’re being threatened or mistreated by your employer just because you got hurt, don’t make the mistake of assuming that you “just have to take it” in order to keep your job.