Health and Safety/Workplace Injuries

Workplace Health and Safety Protections

Workplace Health and Safety – State Laws

Workplace Violence

Infectious Diseases and the Workplace

Smoking and the Workplace

State Smoking Laws

General Information About Workers’ Compensation

Who is Covered By Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ Compensation Benefits

What To Do If You Are Injured At Work

Filing A Workers’ Compensation Claim in Your State

Retaliation: Workers’ Compensation

 

Workplace Health and Safety Protections


Which federal law protects me against health and safety hazards at work?

OSHA, short for the Occupational Safety and Health Act, is the main federal law regulating workplace safety. Put simply, OSHA gives you as an employee the right to have a safe and hazard free workplace. OSHA accomplishes this by randomly inspecting workplaces and by taking complaints directly from workers. Workers in certain states are also protected by state OSHA laws.

Here are some of the specific rights that OSHA guarantees:

You have the right to notify your employer or OSHA about workplace hazards. You may ask OSHA to keep your name confidential.

You have the right to request an OSHA inspection if you believe that there are unsafe and unhealthful conditions in your workplace. You or your representative may participate in the inspection.

You can file a complaint with OSHA within 30 days of discrimination by your employer for making safety and health complaints or for exercising your rights under the OSH Act.

You have a right to see OSHA citations issued to your employer. Your employer must post the citations at or near the place of the alleged violation.

Your employer must correct workplace hazards by the date indicated on the citation and must certify that these hazards have been reduced or eliminated.

You have the right to copies of your medical records or records of your exposure to toxic and harmful substances or conditions.

Your employer must notify all employees of their right to report work-related illnesses or injuries. This obligation may also be satisfied by posting the OSHA Job Safety and Health poster.


How do I know if I am covered by OSHA?

OSHA covers almost all employees in the private sector. The main groups not covered by OSHA are government employees (the public sector), independent contractors, and those who work on family farms. State and local government agency employees are not covered by OSHA but have OSHA protections if they the state that they are working in has an OSHA- approved state program. These states include Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, New Jersey, New York, and the Virgin Islands. As for federal employees, OSHA protections apply to all federal agencies.


If my state has an OSHA law, how is that different from the federal OSHA?

State OSHAs must be at least as effective as the federal one. Many states have simply adopted the same federal standards, while other states have adopted stricter safety requirements. In addition, state OSHAs provide protection to public sector (state and local government) employees. If your state does not have a state OSHA, you will still be covered by federal OSHA regulations.

The following dark shaded states have an approved state OSHA:

US State Map

 

In addition, ConnecticutIllinoisMaineNew JerseyNew York and the Virgin Islands have state plans that only cover public sector (state & local government) employment.

Check with your state’s OSHA office or web page for more specific information on your state’s OSHA.


If I am not covered by OSHA, are there other laws that protect me?

State and local governments often have safety plans in place designed to protect workers. Federal employees are covered by safety laws that require the same level of safety as in private jobs.


What are OSHA's requirements for employers?

OSHA imposes many requirements on employers. Among the most important are the duties of the employer to:

  •  Provide a workplace free from serious recognized hazards and comply OSHA regulations.
  •  Examine the workplace to ensure that equipment and practices conform to OSHA requirement.
  •  Make sure employees are properly using tools and equipment and make sure that the equipment itself is safe.
  •  Inform employees about potential hazards.
  •  Train employees in dealing with hazards.
  •  Report any fatal or serious injuries to OSHA within 8 hours.
  •  Provide employees with a reasonable procedure for reporting work-related injuries or illness.
  •  Keep records of workplace injuries and make these records available upon request to employees and former employees.


What kind of hazards must my employer warn me about?

OSHA only requires that employers warn and protect employees from known hazards.” If your employer has been made aware of a hazard, you should be warned about it. This is one reason why it is important to bring any hazards to your employer’s attention.


Do certain industries have different safety standards?

Yes. OSHA standards are divided into four categories: general industry, maritime, construction, and agriculture. In 2016, OSHA issued a final silica standard to reduce dust exposure in general industry, maritime and construction sectors which is expected to prevent more than 600 deaths and 1000 cases of silicosis each year.


What should I do if I have an accident at work or develop an illness that is caused by my work conditions?

Inform your employer or supervisor as soon as you can, preferably in writing. A rule published by OSHA clarifies the requirement that your employer must provide a reasonable procedure for employees to report work-related injuries and illness. So your employer should have an easy way for you to make a report within a reasonable amount of time after you realize that you have an injury or illness. If you believe the accident or illness occurred as the result of a recognized hazard, you may file an OSHA complaint. Keep in mind that to prove an OSHA violation, you must show that your employer did not maintain a safe workplace and that the specific hazard causing your injury was known as being likely to cause death or serious bodily injury. If you have to miss work or seek medical attention due to the accident or illness, you may also have rights to worker’s compensation. For more information, see our site’s workers’ compensation page.


If an OSHA injury or illness occurs at my workplace, what are the requirements for reporting and record keeping?

Employers with more than 10 employees are required to keep records of serious injuries and illnesses that occur in the workplace except for certain low-risk industries and minor injuries. OSHA defines a work-related injury or illness as any work-related fatality, injury or illness that results in loss of consciousness, days away from work, restricted work, or transfer to another job. Work related injury or illness requiring medical treatment beyond first aid, any work related diagnosed case of cancer, chronic irreversible diseases, fractured or cracked bones or teeth and punctured eardrums are also included in the OSHA list of work-related injuries that require reporting. Work-related cases that involve needle-sticks and sharps injuries, medical removal, hearing loss, and tuberculosis require special recording criteria. Employers must report any worker fatality within 8 hours. Any amputation, loss of an eye, or hospitalization of a worker must be reported within 24 hours.


How do I report an injury or illness?

Injuries and illnesses may be reported online or by phone.

  • Call the nearest OSHA office.
  • Call the OSHA 24-hour hotline at 1800-321-6742 (OSHA)
  • Report Online.

Note: Be prepared with the name of the business, names of the affected individuals, location and time of the incident, a description of the incident, a contact person and telephone number.


I want to electronically submit a report. What are the rules for doing this under the new administration?

The Injury and Illness E-Reporting rule, effective on December 1, 2017, requires employers to electronically submit injury and illness data that is already recorded on OSHA forms 300, 300A, and 301. Some of this data will be available to the public online. The OSHA website will provide three options for data submission. Users will be able to manually enter data into a web form, upload a CSV file to process single or multiple establishments at the same time, or users of automated record keeping system will be able to transmit data electronically via an application programming interface, (API).


Does the record-keeping provision apply to my employer?

Under the new OSHA regulation, employers of 250 or more employees, at a single location, are required to annually upload electronic OSHA logs, forms, and summaries. Regulations also require employers in high hazard industries, with 20-249 employees to electronically submit their 300A summaries.


Can my employer fire or punish me for reporting an injury or illness?

No. OSHA rules explicitly prohibit an employer from firing or retaliating against an employee because they reported an injury or illness. An employer may fire or punish you for violating safety rules, or for violating reasonable reporting procedures. But the fact that you reported an injury or illness cannot be the reason for the punishment.

In order for OSHA to issue a citation against an employer for retaliation, the following must be true:

  • The employee reported a work-related injury or illness;
  • The employer took adverse action against the employee (action that would deter a reasonable person from reporting an injury or illness); and
  • The employer took the adverse action because the employee reported a work-related injury or illness. (this can be proven by circumstantial evidence, as hard evidence may not exist in some cases.)


I think that other workers might also have been affected by hazardous conditions at work. Do I have the right to look at my employer's records of illnesses and injuries?

Yes. With some exceptions, usually based on the size of the company, OSHA requires employers to keep records of injuries and illness in the workplace. Employees and former employees must be provided access to these records. All employers, regardless of the size of the company, are required to report fatalities or injuries that require hospital visits. These reports must be made available to employees. Additionally, you can search for inspection reports of your workplace on OSHA’s website.


A co-worker brings their gun to work with them. Are they allowed to do this? What are the laws in this area?

Many employers ban guns at work, and in 28 states they are allowed to do so. However, in some states employers are more restricted, these include Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin. In those states, employers are still allowed to ban guns in offices and factories, but cannot prevent employees from storing their guns in their cars, and on company property, while at work. There are some variations in the state laws, like not being able to discriminate against gun owners, but the core of each of the laws allows employees to keep guns in their cars while at work.


Is my employer supposed to have a poster about OSHA?

Yes. Your employer is required to display the OSHA poster (pdf) (or its state equivalent in states with their own OSHA laws) in a prominent place where employees are likely to see it. This poster explains worker’s rights, the protections offered by OSHA, and information on contacting OSHA.


If I think my workplace is unsafe, how do I file a complaint?

You can go to any OSHA office (either the local office of federal OSHA or your state’s OSHA office) and complete the appropriate forms. Complaint forms also may be filled out and submitted online or printed and faxed or mailed. Forms are available through OSHA’s website.


If I think my workplace is unsafe, how do I file a complaint?

You can go to any OSHA office (either the local office of federal OSHA or your state’s OSHA office) and complete the appropriate forms. Complaint forms also may be filled out and submitted online or printed and faxed or mailed. Forms are available through OSHA’s website.


Who can file a complaint?

Anyone aware of a workplace hazard may file a complaint — not just employees. This includes union representatives.


Do I have to give my name when I file a complaint?

No. You can file claims anonymously online if you prefer. However, a written and signed complaint is more likely to result in an on-site inspection by OSHA, instead of a phone or fax interview.


Should I file a complaint by myself, or should I try to assemble others to join me?

While you don’t need a group to file a report, many employees prefer to assemble co-workers before taking action. Benefits to assembling others are that your complaint may be taken more seriously, and the risk of retaliation by your employer against particular individuals is lessened.


What happens after I file a complaint?

Depending on the severity of the hazard in the complaint, OSHA will either conduct an on-site investigation or they will do a phone or fax interview with the employer.

At least one of the following eight criteria must be met for OSHA to conduct an on-site inspection:

  •  A written, signed complaint by a current employee or employee representative with enough detail to enable OSHA to determine that a violation or danger likely exists that threatens physical harm or that an imminent danger exists;
  •  An allegation that physical harm has occurred as a result of the hazard and that it still exists;
  •  A report of an imminent danger;
  •  A complaint about a company in an industry covered by one of OSHA’s local or national emphasis programs or a hazard targeted by one of these programs;
  •  Inadequate response from an employer who has received information on the hazard through a phone/fax investigation;
  •  A complaint against an employer with a past history of egregious, willful or failure-to-abate OSHA citations within the past three years;
  •  Referral from a whistleblower investigator; or
  •  A complaint at a facility scheduled for or already undergoing an OSHA inspection.

If a hazardous condition is found, OSHA can order your employer to remove the danger. If the danger is less severe, OSHA will issue a citation to your employer that will state the hazard, notify everyone at your work site of the hazard, and give a time limit for your employer to fix it.


What if I don't want OSHA to show up at my workplace to perform an inspection (or it's not necessary)?

OSHA’s phone/fax method enables the agency to respond more quickly to hazards where none of the eight criteria listed above are met or where the employee or employee representative requests the phone/fax method. OSHA telephones the employer, describes the alleged hazards and then follows up with a fax or a letter. The employer must respond within five days, identifying in writing any problems found and noting corrective actions taken or planned. If the response is adequate, OSHA generally will not conduct an inspection. The employee who filed the original complaint will receive a copy of the employer’s response. If still not satisfied, the complainant may then request an on-site inspection.

If a hazardous condition is found, OSHA can order your employer to remove the danger. If the danger is less severe, OSHA will issue a citation to your employer that will state the hazard, notify everyone at your work site of the hazard, and give a time limit for your employer to fix it.


What if my employer is upset with me for filing a complaint?

To encourage employees to bring safety hazards to the attention of OSHA without having to fear retaliation from their employers, OSHA makes it illegal for employers to retaliate or discriminate against employees who participate in OSHA proceedings. This means you cannot be fired, demoted or otherwise discriminated against for exercising your rights under OSHA.

To file a claim that your employer discriminated against you because of your participation in an OSHA-related proceeding, you must be able to show:

  •  That you did actually participate in an OSHA proceeding (filing a complaint, testifying, asking for an investigation etc.),­­­­
  •  That your employer knew this, and
  •  That due to your involvement in the proceeding you were subjected to an adverse employment action (for example, being fired, demoted, having your hours or pay cut, or being harassed).

Complaints of discrimination should be filed as soon as possible within 30 days of the discriminatory act by your employer. This process also applies to situations where you walk off the job because you believed you were in imminent danger by continuing to work.

For more information about filing a discrimination complaint based upon your participation in an OSHA-related proceeding, see our site’s page on environmental whistleblowers.


What if I'm in immediate danger and can't wait for OSHA?

If there is a serious and immediate hazard at your workplace, inform your supervisor as soon as possible. It may be necessary to speak with more than one supervisor and/or to speak with them more than once. If your supervisor does not do anything, and there is no time for OSHA to act, you may be permitted to walk off the job free from retaliation from your employer.

However, your right to do this is limited to situations where you are in “imminent danger.” The following conditions must be met before a hazard becomes an imminent danger:

  •  There must be a threat of death or serious physical harm. “Serious physical harm” means that a part of the body is damaged so severely that it cannot be used or cannot be used very well.
  •  For a health hazard, there must be a reasonable expectation that toxic substances or other health hazards are present and exposure to them will shorten life or cause substantial reduction in physical or mental efficiency. The harm caused by the health hazard does not have to happen immediately.
  •  The threat must be immediate or imminent. This means that you must believe that death or serious physical harm could occur within a short time, for example before OSHA could investigate the problem.
  •  If an OSHA inspector believes that an imminent danger exists, the inspector must inform affected employees and the employer that he is recommending that OSHA take steps to stop the imminent danger.
  •  OSHA has the right to ask a federal court to order the employer to eliminate the imminent danger.

Walking off the job should only be done if there is no other reasonable alternative and if your safety is in serious and immediate danger. In addition, you should call OSHA as soon as possible to report imminent dangers at 800-321-OSHA (6742).

Workplace Health and Safety – State Laws


Alaska OSHA

The Alaska Occupational Safety and Health Administration (AKOSH) includes all the federal protections, as well as additional protections for the following three types of work: 1) petroleum refining, 2) drilling productions sites, and 3) long shoring.

AKOSH applies to all Alaska state employers and private employers within the state of Alaska. The following places of employment are covered by the federal OSHA standards despite being in Alaska:

  • Federal employers,
  • private sector maritime employers,
  • floating seafood processors,
  • offshore oil platforms and production facilities;
  • Indian Health Service hospitals and clinics; and
  • all private employers within the National Parks and missile defense bases

AKOSH completes workplaces inspections and issues citations to ensure workplace safety. Additionally AKOSH provides safety training and certifies training courses for the following types of work:

  • asbestos abatement workers,
  • explosive handlers,
  • and persons who apply hazardous paint.

Employers can request that AKOSH to provide on-site training for their companies by filling out and submitting the online request sheet. These trainings are confidential and are cost-free evaluations of the worksite. According to http://labor.state.ak.us/lss/oshhome.htm, you can send the form to the following contacts:

Alaska Occupational Safety and Health
Consultation and Training
3301 Eagle Street, Rm 305
Anchorage, Alaska 99503
Fax: (907) 269-4950
Anchorage e-mail – Anchorage.LSS-OSH@alaska.gov
Juneau e-mail – Juneau.LSS-OSH@alaska.gov

AKOSH keeps a list of all public notices for workplace fatalities in hopes of providing employees with more information so they may avoid injuries and fatalities. Additionally AKOSH keeps a full list of employer’s challenges to citations and penalties.

The AKOSH main offices are in Anchorage, Alaska and Juneau, Alaska. More information can be found at http://labor.state.ak.us/lss/oshhome.htm.


Arizona OSHA

The Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH), includes all the federal protections, as well as additional protections for agricultural workplaces.

ADOSH applies to all Arizona’s state employers and private employers within the state of Arizona. The following places of employment are covered by federal OSHA, not ADOSH:

  • Federal government workers
  • private sector maritime,
  • employment on Indian Lands and areas of exclusive federal jurisdiction,
  • copper smelters, and
  • concrete and asphalt batch plants that are physically located within mine property

ADOSH is administered by the Industrial Commission of Arizona, which as its main office in Phoenix, Arizona. From time to time compliance officers may inspect workplaces for hazardous conditions and then issue situations. The inspections occur due to regular scheduling, imminent danger reports, fatalities, and worker complaints or referrals. If you want to report a workplace fatality or accident find out how at the ADOSH website. More information can be found at http://www.ica.state.az.us/ADOSH/ADOSH_main.aspx.


California OSHA

California’s OSHA, The Department of Industrial Relations (Cal/OSHA), has all the federal protections, some heighten protections, and additional protections for toxic chemical handling and exposure, agriculture, repetitive motion injuries, child labor, heat exposure, and noise exposure.

Cal/OSHA applies to all California state employers and private employers within the state of California. Cal/OSHA does not apply to Federal employees, employers on federal property, private sector employers on Native American Lands, private contractors working on land that is exclusive federal jurisdiction, and employers that require federal security clearance are covered by OSHA jurisdiction.

The Cal/OSHA main office is in Oakland, California. From time to time compliance officers may inspect workplaces for hazardous conditions and then issue situations. The inspections occur due to regular scheduling, imminent danger reports, fatalities, and worker complaints or referrals. If an employee wants to report a labor law violation, she can do by filing a complaint. More information can be found at the Cal/OSHA website.


Hawaii OSHA

The Hawaii Occupational Safety and Health Division (HIOSH), includes all the federal protections, some heighten protections, and additional protections for toxic chemical, handling exposure, and noise exposure.

HIOSH applies to all Hawaiian state employers and private employers within the state of Hawaii. HIOSH does not apply to Federal employees and those that work exclusively on federal property.

The HIOSH main office is in Honolulu, Hawaii. From time to time compliance officers may inspect workplaces for hazardous conditions and then issue situations. The inspections occur due to regular scheduling, imminent danger reports, fatalities, and worker complaints or referrals. Employees may file a complaint by receiving an online form. The HIOSH laws for specific workplaces/events is on Hawaii’s official website.  More information can be found at the HIOSH website.


Illinois OSHA

Illinois version of OSHA, The Safety, Inspection, and Education Division (IDOL-SEID), has all the federal protections, some heighten requirements for record keeping.

IDOL-SEID applies only to state employers. OSHA applies to all federal employers, private employers, and Maritain employers within the state of Illinois.

The IDOL-SEID main office is in Springfield, Illinois. From time to time compliance officers may inspect workplaces for hazardous conditions and then issue situations. The inspections occur due to regular scheduling, imminent danger reports, fatalities, and worker complaints or referrals. Employees can file complaints online or using printed forms. More information can be found at the IDOL-SEID website.


Indiana OSHA

Indiana version of OSHA, The Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration (IOSHA), has adopted all of OSHA’s regulations and standards without any major deviations.

IOSHA applies only to state employers and private employers. However, OSHA applies to all federal employers within the state of Illinois.

The IOSHA main office is in Indianapolis, Indiana. From time to time compliance officers may inspect workplaces for hazardous conditions and then issue situations. The inspections occur due to regular scheduling, imminent danger reports, fatalities, catastrophes, and worker complaints or referrals. Employees can file an online complaint. More information can be found at the IOSHA website.


Iowa OSHA

Iowa’s version of OSHA has adopted all of OSHA’s regulations and standards and adds a few additions, including, 1) some slightly more stringent standards and 2) rules governing the following subjects that the federal OSHA does not address:

  • Sanitation and Shelter Rules for Railroad Employees
  • Hazardous Chemical Risks Right to Know – General Provisions
  • Community Right to Know
  • Public Safety/Emergency Response Right to Know
  • Asbestos Removal and Encapsulation

Iowa OSHA applies only to state employers and private employers. However, OSHA applies to all federal employers within the state of Iowa

The Iowa OSHA main office is in Des Monies, Iowa. From time to time compliance officers may inspect workplaces for hazardous conditions and then issue situations. The inspections occur due to regular scheduling, imminent danger reports, fatalities, catastrophes, and worker complaints or referrals. Employees can report a workplace fatality, hospitalization, loss of an eye or amputation using the Iowa OSHA form. An employee can also file a complaint with Iowa OSHA. More information can be found at the Iowa OSHA website.


Kentucky OSHA

Kentucky Occupational Safety and Health (Kentucky OSH) has adopted all of OSHA’s regulations and standards and added additional requirements. According to the official OSHA website, Kentucky OSH adds additional requests to the following objects:

  • Batteries
  • Electrical Testing
  • Safety Belts, Lanyards, and Life Lines
  • Off Highway Motor Vehicles and Equipment
  • Rollover Protective Structures and Overhead Equipment
  • Fire Apparatus and Fire Department Facilities
  • Refuse Collection and Compaction Equipment
  • Receiving and Unloading Bulk Hazardous Liquids
  • Employers Responsibilities Where Employees are Exposed to Toxic Substances
  • Reporting Amputations or In Patient Hospitalizations
  • Guarding Floor and Wall Openings
  • Occupational Noise
  • Flammable and Combustible Liquids
  • Control of Hazardous Energy
  • Medical Services and First Aid
  • Powered Industrial Trucks
  • Mechanical Power Presses
  • Selection and Use of Work Practices (Electrical)
  • Four, Four-Methulene bis (Two-Chloroaniline)
  • Laboratory Activities
  • Access to Worker Exposure and Medical Records
  • Bloodborne Pathogens
  • Safety and Testing of Supply Lines in Excess of 600 Volts
  • Refuse Collection and Compaction Equipment
  • Receiving and Unloading Bulk Hazardous Liquids
  • Employers Responsibilities Where Employees are Exposed to Toxic Substances
  • Reporting Amputations or In Patient Hospitalizations
  • Confined Space Entry
  • Bloodborne Pathogens
  • Fall Protection
  • Material Hoists, Personnel Hoists, and Elevators
  • Steel Erection
  • Blasting and Use of Explosives
  • Power Transmission and Distribution

Kentucky OSH applies all state employers and private employers in Kentucky, except for the following exceptions:

  • private sector maritime activities,
  • Tennessee Valley Authority facilities,
  • military personnel,
  • the United States Postal Service (USPS),
  • federal government workers, and
  • issues of field sanitation and temporary labor camps in agriculture
    • There is an exception to the expectation for the following agricultural fields: temporary labor camps associated with egg, poultry, red meat production, or the post-harvest processing of agricultural or horticultural commodities.

The Kentucky OSH main office is in Frankfort, Kentucky. From time to time compliance officers may inspect workplaces for hazardous conditions and then issue situations. The inspections occur due to regular scheduling, imminent danger reports, fatalities, and worker complaints or referrals. More information can be found at the Kentucky OSH website.


Maryland OSHA

Maryland’s version of OSHA, the Maryland Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH), has adopted all of OSHA’s regulations and standards and adds a few additional requirements for Toxic chemical handling and exposure and agriculture workplaces.

MOSH applies only to state employers and private employers. However, OSHA applies to all federal employers within the state of Maryland and private sector maritime employers.

OSHA’s main office is in Hunt Valley, Maryland. From time to time compliance officers may inspect workplaces for hazardous conditions and then issue situations. The inspections occur due to regular scheduling, imminent danger reports, fatalities, catastrophes, and worker complaints or referrals. For workers to file a complaint find requirements and information a thttp://www.dllr.state.md.us/labor/mosh/complaintpage.shtml. More information can be found at the MOSH website.


Michigan OSHA

The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA), has adopted all of OSHA’s regulations and standards and adds a few additional requirements for restrictions on child labor.

MOSH applies to state employers and private employers. However, OSHA applies to all federal employers within the state of Michigan, private sector maritime employers, and private sector mining employees,

MIOSHA’s main office is in Lansing, Michigan, though it should be noted that as of August 10, 2015 the building is moving to a new location in Lansing. From time to time compliance officers may inspect workplaces for hazardous conditions and then issue situations. The inspections occur due to regular scheduling, imminent danger reports, fatalities, catastrophes, and worker complaints or referrals. Workers earn file a complaint online, or using a printable form. More information can be found at the MIOSHA website.


Minnesota OSHA

Minnesota’s version of OSHA, the Minnesota Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MNOSHA), has adopted most of OSHA’s regulations and standards and adds a few additional requirements for Toxic chemical handling and exposure, agriculture workplaces, repetitive motion injuries, heat exposure, and noise exposure.

MNOSHA applies only to state employers and private employers. However, OSHA applies to all federal employers within the state of Minnesota, agricultural operations that that must meet field sanitation standards and temporary labor camps.

MNOSHA’s main office is in St. Paul, Minnesota. From time to time compliance officers may inspect workplaces for hazardous conditions and then issue situations. The inspections occur due to regular scheduling, imminent danger reports, fatalities, and worker complaints or referrals. The requirements and forms for worker complaints are provided on the MNOSHA website. Employees can also review safety statistics on the website, or get more general information.


Nevada OSHA

The Nevada Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Nevada OSHA), has adopted most of OSHA’s regulations and standards and adds a few additional requirements for cranes, steel erection construction, asbestos, explosives, ammonium perchlorate and photovoltaic.

Nevada OSHA applies only to state employers and private employers. However, OSHA applies to all federal employers within the state of Nevada, private sector maritime, and employment on Indian Lands.

Nevada OSHA’s main office is in Henderson, Nevada. From time to time compliance officers may inspect workplaces for hazardous conditions and then issue situations. The inspections occur due to regular scheduling, imminent danger reports, fatalities, and worker complaints or referrals. For workers to file a complaint, you may do so by the following ways:

  • By Phone
    • Southern Nevada: (702) 486-9020
    • Northern Nevada: (775) 688-3700
  • By mail (finding the form using the online instructions at http://dirweb.state.nv.us/OSHA/osha.htm)
    • Southern Nevada: Nevada OSHA, 1301 N Green Valley Pkwy Ste #200, Henderson, NV 89074;
    • Northern Nevada: Nevada OSHA, 4600 Kietzke Lane, Bldg F, Ste #153, Reno, NV 89502

More information can be found at the Nevada OSHA website.


New Mexico OSHA

The New Mexico Occupational Health and Safety Bureau (OHSB) has adopted all of OSHA’s regulations and standards and adds a few additional requirements for public sector firefighters, convenience stores, field stations, and employment places that use short-handled hoes.

OHSB applies only to state employers and private employers, with a few exceptions. Federal OSHA applies to all federal employers within the state of New Mexico, maritime industries, mining operations, employment on military bases, Indian reservations, and any employer that conducts business exclusively on federal jurisdiction.

OHSB’s main office is in Santa Fe, New Mexico. From time to time compliance officers may inspect workplaces for hazardous conditions and then issue situations. The inspections occur due to regular scheduling, imminent danger reports, fatalities, and worker complaints or referrals. Employers and employees can request a free safety and health consultation. More information can be found at the OHSB website.


Oregon OSHA

The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OR-OSHA) has adopted all of OSHA’s regulations and standards and adds a few additional requirements for restrictions on employers that work in forest, agriculture, and firefighter and pesticide protections.

OR-OSHA applies to state employers and private employers, with a few exceptions. OSHA applies to all federal employers within the state of Oregon, private maritime employers, private contractors on military reservations, private contractors at Crater Lake National Park, and employers on Indian Reservations.

OR-OSHA’s main office is in Salem, Oregon, as of July 20th, 2015 the building as moved. Check OR-OSHA’s main page to find the new building. From time to time compliance officers may inspect workplaces for hazardous conditions and then issue situations. The inspections occur due to regular scheduling, imminent danger reports, fatalities, catastrophes, and worker complaints or referrals. Workers may file a complaint online. More information can be found at the OR-OSHA website.


South Carolina OSHA

The South Carolina Occupational Safety and Health Plan (SCOSH) has adopted similar standards as OSHA’s regulations and standards and does not add any unique standards.

SCOSH applies to state employers and private employers, with a few exceptions. OSHA applies to all federal employers within the state of South Carolina, private maritime employers, private contractors on military reservations, and private contractors at Savannah River and Three Rivers Solid Waste Authority.

SCOSH’s main office is in Columbia, South Carolina. From time to time compliance officers may inspect workplaces for hazardous conditions and then issue situations. The inspections occur due to regular scheduling, imminent danger reports, fatalities, and worker complaints or referrals. Employees can find data on employers at the federal OSHA website. Workers can file a complaint by filing out this form, and follow these instructions. More information can be found at the SCOSHA website.


Tennessee OSHA

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TOSHA) has adopted similar standards as OSHA’s regulations and standards and adds some additional regulations for Toxic Chemicals and Handling.

TOSHA applies to state employers and private employers, with a few exceptions. OSHA applies to all federal employers within the state of Tennessee, private maritime employers, private contractors on military bases, private railroad employers, and employment related to the Tennessee Valley Authority facilities.

TOSHA’s main office is in Nashville, Tennessee. From time to time compliance officers may inspect workplaces for hazardous conditions and then issue situations. The inspections occur due to regular scheduling, imminent danger reports, fatalities, and worker complaints or referrals.

Employers can file a complaint using the following methods:

  • Calling one of the local offices,
  • Submitting an online form,
  • Mail a printable form to Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development Division of Occupational Safety and Health, 220 French Landing Drive Nashville, Tennessee 37243

More information can be found at the TOSHA website.


Utah OSHA

The Utah Occupational Safety and Health (Utah OSHA) has adopted the exact standards of OSHA and adds additional standards for toxic chemical handling and exposure, agriculture, and child labor.

Utah OSHA applies to state employers and private employers, with a few exceptions. OSHA applies to all federal employers within the state of Utah, private maritime employers, private employers at Hill Air Force Base and Tooele Army Depot, private employers at the Tooele Chemical Demilitarization Facility, some agricultural related operations that have temporary labor camps and field sanitation areas.

Utah OSHA’s main office is in Salt Lake City, Utah. From time to time compliance officers may inspect workplaces for hazardous conditions and then issue situations. The inspections occur due to regular scheduling, imminent danger reports, fatalities, and worker complaints or referrals. Workers can file a complaint by filing out and online form. More information can be found at the Utah OSHA website.


Vermont OSHA

The Vermont Occupational Safety and Health Program (VOSHA) has adopted the exact standards of OSHA and adds additional standards to permissible exposure limitations and line worker safety protections.

VOSHA applies to state employers and private employers, with a few exceptions. OSHA applies to all federal employers within the state of Vermont, private maritime employers, and private employers on military bases.

VOSHA main office is in Montpelier, Vermont. From time to time compliance officers may inspect workplaces for hazardous conditions and then issue situations. The inspections occur due to regular scheduling, imminent danger reports, fatalities, and worker complaints or referrals. Workers can file a complaint online. More information can be found at the VOSHA website.


Virginia OSHA

The Virginia Department of Labor and Industry (VOSH) has adopted the exact standards of OSHA and adds additional standards to confined spaces in the construction and telecommunication industries, overhead high voltage line safety, fall protection in steel erection, tree trimming, and added compliances for manufacture’s instruction for vehicles, machinery tools and equipment in general industry, construction, maritime, and agriculture.

VOSH applies to state employers and private employers, with a few exceptions. OSHA applies to all federal employers within the state of Virginia, private maritime employers, and private employees on military facilities.

VOSH main office is in Richmond, Virginia. From time to time compliance officers may inspect workplaces for hazardous conditions and then issue situations. The inspections occur due to regular scheduling, imminent danger reports, fatalities, and worker complaints or referrals. Workers can file a complaint  by following the steps outlined by theDepartment. More information can be found at the VOSH website.


Wyoming OSHA

The Wyoming Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Wyoming OSHA) does give substantially similar protection as OSHA, however Wyoming OSHA’s wording deviates the most compared to the other state’s OSHA. While Wyoming does cover some sections left out via a state law called the Wyoming Safety Act. Additionally Wyoming OSHA is not allowed to have stricter rules than OSHA, but is allowed to cover employment fields that OSHAS does not cover. Additionally, Wyoming has unique standards for Oil and gas well drilling fields and child labor.

Wyoming OSHA applies to state employers and private employers, with a few exceptions. OSHA applies to all federal employers within the state of Wyoming, private sector maritime employers, private contractors at Warren Air Force Base and Naval Petroleum and Oil Shale Reserve in Casper, agricultural employers that have field sanitation and temporary labor camps.

Wyoming OSHA’s main office is in Cheyenne, Wyoming. From time to time compliance officers may inspect workplaces for hazardous conditions and then issue situations. The inspections occur due to regular scheduling, imminent danger reports, fatalities, and worker complaints or referrals. More information can be found at WyomingWorkforce.org.

Workplace Violence


How big a problem is workplace violence, and could it affect me?

Every year about 2 million American workers are victims of violence in the workplace. Workplace violence can range from verbal threats and abuse to physical attacks and homicide. Homicide is the leading cause of workplace death for women and the second leading cause of workplace death for all workers. Estimates show that up to 703 people a year are the victims of homicide in American workplaces.

Some workers are more vulnerable to workplace violence than others. For example, workplace violence against women is more prevalent than against men. Workers in the health care and social assistance industries are also vulnerable.  Employees that work in the health care field are often victims of verbal attacks, physical attacks, and other forms of harassment. The highest rates of abuse are against nurses and nursing aides because they spend a lot of time with patients.

Workers who handle money or have contact with the public while working alone are more at risk for violence. These occupations include:

  • Cashiers
  • Convenience store attendants
  • Taxi drivers
  • Postal workers
  • Anyone working alone in a high crime area
  • Other similar professions

This is not a complete list, and it is important to remember that no workplace or worker is immune to violence.


What is my employer required to do to protect me from violence in the workplace?

Employers can reduce the likelihood of violence in the workplace by assessing their work site. There is currently no official OSHA standard for workplace violence. But, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has released guidelines for dealing with workplace violence. For example, OSHA recommends guidelines for violence protection programs at night retail establishments. If an employer fails to follow these guidelines it does not make them automatically responsible if there is an attack. While state laws may vary, OSHA has not set any specific standards for workplace violence. Workers are somewhat protected by the general duty clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which requires employers to provide a safe and healthful workplace for all covered employees. OSHA may cite an employer for failing to protect their employees from a recognized violence hazard in the workplace.


What can I do to protect myself from violence in the workplace?

Your best protection from violence is to report concerns about safety and suspicious persons, including coworkers. If you see something concerning, report it to your supervisor immediately. You can help prevent workplace violence by attending personal safety training programs. Safety programs will teach you to prevent and diffuse violent situations. You can talk with your employer about implementing zero-tolerance policies on workplace violence. You may also work with your employer on a workplace violence prevention program.


Are employees allowed to carry guns in the workplace?

No law specifically prohibits possession of a firearm in a workplace. But employers may create policies restricting the possession of firearms in the workplace. The owners of leased property where a business operates may also restrict the possession of firearms on the property. Employers must notify their employees of these restrictions in clear and legible terms.


What should my employer do to start a workplace violence prevention program?

According to OSHA, an effective workplace violence prevention program could include:

  • A specific plan, tailored to the industry, for workplace security.
  • A worksite analysis of risk factors, past incidents, security, and safety audits.
  • Solutions to known environmental hazards, including, adequate lighting, video surveillance, drop safes and barriers to protect employees.
  • Training for employees, security personnel, and supervisors.
  • Record keeping of all incidents, policy recommendations, notes from safety meetings, and evaluations of the effectiveness of current safety plans.


What should I do if I am the victim of violence in the workplace?

If you have been threatened at your workplace, or have been the victim of physical violence at work, report it immediately to your supervisor and detail the incident in writing. If your supervisor or employer does not act, or the threat of further violence is serious, report it to the local police. If you feel that you were the victim of violence because your employer violated the general duty to provide a safe workplace, you can file a complaint with OSHA.


Is my employer responsible for a violent act committed against me?

Employers are not automatically liable for violent acts committed by their employees. However, if your employer could have or should have known that one of their employees had violent tendencies, they may be liable for injuries caused by that employee. Workers compensation laws require employers to pay for injuries suffered by an employee on the job. Furthermore, employers are required by OSHA to provide a safe work environment for their employees.


Where can I get further information about the prevention of workplace violence?

OSHA provides guidelines for late-night retail establishments, health care, and social service industries. OSHA also provides general information about workplace violence. For guidelines or other OSHA publications on workplace violence, visit the OSHA website.

Infectious Diseases and the Workplace


I caught the flu. Can my employer fire me just because I am sick?

Typically your boss may fire you for missing work due to the flu, but it depends on the seriousness of the flu symptoms you have. If the flu makes you very sick and causes non-typical health complications, it may be illegal for your employer to fire you. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protects employees by stating that certain employers may not fire employees for missing 12 weeks or less of work due to serious illness. While it is very rare for courts to prevent employers from firing employees due to the flu, courts have granted FMLA protection to employees that caught the flu and had severe reactions. To determine if the flu counts as an FMLA covered condition, certain factors must be met. The most important factor is that your flu must be considered a “serious health condition.” The flu may count as a serious health condition if the following occur:

  • It prevents you from being able to complete essential functions of your job for four or more consecutive calendar days;
  • It causes you to visit a healthcare provider at least twice, and the visits must be in person and not over the phone follow-ups;
  • It requires you to receive continued treatment;

Even if your doctor advises you to stay home for a week, if the other FMLA conditions are not met, the flu is not considered a serious health condition.


Do I have to call my employer if I will miss work due to being sick with the flu?

Yes. While FMLA does protect sick employees, you still must call your employer and follow any call-in procedure your employer has established. However, if your illness is sudden and prevents you from calling your employer immediately, then you may not need call in immediately, so long as you DO call in as soon as reasonably possible. If you fail to do so, you will not be given FMLA’s protection.


Can my employer fire me for not getting myself or my child a flu shot or vaccination?

Yes. Generally, your boss may make it a job requirement that you be vaccinated and remove the risk of exposer to infectious disease. If your employer creates such a policies, your employer may fire you for failing to vaccinate yourself or your children. Your employer may assume that having an unvaccinated child could lead to an unreasonable risk that you could catch the flu or another illness, and as a result, your employer is legally allowed to fire you.

There are some exceptions. The first exception is if you hold a religious objection to shots or vaccines. Another exception is if you have a disability that makes receiving shots or vaccines dangerous. Finally, if you have a pre-existing employment contract or collective bargaining agreement, your employer cannot require you to receive new vaccinations.

Many employers do not require employees to receive flu shots. Typically only medical employers require them. In fact, most state laws require medical professionals to receive vaccinations and flu shots. For a full list of state-mandated hospital, employment vaccinations check out the CDC’s list of requirements.


How can I avoid getting sick at work? How can I prevent giving co-workers my cold?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), the best option to avoid the flu is to get the flu shot, and the best way to avoid other infectious diseases is to get the corresponding vaccination. For other contagious illnesses do the following:

    • Avoid close contact with others when you, or they, are sick;
    • Stay at home when you are sick;
    • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze;
    • Washing your hands often, with soap and water for at least 20 seconds;
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands (this is an important step to avoid catching the flu);
    • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects at work.

For more information about stopping the spread of germs at work, refer to the CDC website.


I have been hearing a lot in the news about infectious diseases such as Ebola and Measles. What are they?

Zika

Zika is a virus spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. It can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus, causing certain brith defects. At present, there is no vaccine or medicine for Zika. Symptoms of Zika may include fever, rash, headache joint pain, conjunctivitis, and muscle pain, lasting from several days to a week. If you suspect that you may have been affected, a blood or urine test can confirm Zika infection. The CDC advises that you see a doctor or healthcare provider if you develop symptoms.

To prevent Zika infection, the CDC recommends protecting yourself from mosquito bites. You may do so by using an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)- registered insect repellant containing one of the active ingredients: DEET, picardin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, or 2-undecanone.

Ebola

Ebola is a rare and deadly disease that was first discovered in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Some nations have seen a dramatic increase in the numbers of individuals with Ebola. Recently, there have even been a few rare scares of Ebola in the USA.

To avoid catching Ebola the CDC recommends:

  • Washing your hands with soap or hand sanitizer;
  • Avoid contact with blood and body fluids;
  • Do not handle items that came into contact with infected blood or body fluids;
  • Avoid bats and nonhuman primates, their blood, their fluids, and their raw meat;
  • Avoid funeral rituals that handle bodies of those that died from Ebola;

For the latest information about Ebola, see the CDC Ebola page.

Measles

Measles is a disease that, in the early half of the twentieth century, lead to the hospitalization of 48,000 people and the death of 400 to 500 people per year. In the year 2000, the CDC declared that measles had been eliminated in the USA because it had not been transmitted for 12 consecutive months. This success was attributed to the success of vaccination policies for school-aged children. However, recently, measles has again begun to break out in parts of the USA.

To avoid catching measles the CDC recommends:

  • Get an MMR vaccination
  • The CDC states that it there is no link between the MMR vaccination and autism
  • Most children have no side effects from the vaccination

Measles is very contagious. You can catch it by being in a room where someone with measles breathed within the last two hours. Nearly everyone that doesn’t have a vaccination will catch measles if they are exposed to the measles virus.

For more information about Measles see the CDC measles page.


If I have an infectious disease and have to miss work, am I protected?

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), covered employees may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for serious medical conditions. Whether any infectious disease is considered a serious medical condition will depend on the disease and the degree to which it affects you. When there is a fear of a nationwide pandemic, and the spread of a disease makes the news, employers are likely to consider the illness serious medical condition.


Can my employer force me to stay home from work if I, or one of my family members, contracts an infectious disease?

Yes, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), an employer may force an employee to stay home if the employer believes that the employee will pose a direct threat to the workplace due to having or being exposed to, a serious infectious disease. This includes employees that are still willing and able to work. Many diseases are very infectious. For example, the Measles virus can be caught if you enter a room where an infected individual was located thirty minutes ago. Sometimes the best way an employer can prevent the threat of exposure to all employees is to require one employee to stay home from work.


If my employer forces me to stay home from work due to a fear of spreading an infectious disease just because a family member is ill, will that count as part of the 12 weeks leave under FMLA?

No, if an overly cautious employer forces an employee who does not have an infectious disease to stay home from work, this time cannot be charged against the employee’s 12-week entitlement under the FMLA. As a general rule, employers are not allowed to charge employees with FMLA leave when that leave is required by the employer.


Can employers discriminate against workers that just emigrated from a nation were a specific infectious disease is prevalent, due to a fear of that infectious disease?

Employers may not discriminate against an employee based on the employee’s nationality. During the swine flu pandemic, the EEOC released a short comment on their website indicating that any discrimination based on nationality, even if based on an honest fear of the swine flu virus, would violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. For more information on discrimination against employees from abroad, see our site’s page on immigration status discrimination.


Is my employer allowed to require employees to adopt infection control practices to combat an infectious disease?

Yes. Requiring infection control practices is not only a good idea during a disease pandemic, but also does not implicate any violation of the ADA. Additionally, an employer is allowed to require personal protective equipment designed to combat the spread of an infectious disease. If an employee needs a reasonable accommodation in order to use certain safety equipment (e.g. latex allergy) then, an employer must provide it to the employee.


Does my employer have a duty to protect me from an infectious disease at work?

Yes. According to OSHA, the law that requires employers to provide a safe workplace, your employer does have a duty to protect you from recognized hazards. However, there is no specific duty that details what an employer must do to protect you from an infectious disease.


Can my employer force me to supply personal safety equipment to prevent the spread of disease?

No. If your employer has determined that personal protective equipment is required for the worksite, then it is the employer’s responsibility to make sure that it is provided at the job site.


Is my employer allowed to track whether I or my family members have contracted an infectious disease?

It depends. Typically employers cannot force you to tell them if you have a disability or a sickness that others are not at risk of catching. However, under the ADA, during a pandemic, an employer may require employees to disclose whether they or their family members have been exposed to an infectious disease.


Can my potential employer require me to undergo a medical examination after being hired, but before I start work to determine if I have been exposed to an infectious disease?

Yes, the ADA does permit potential employers to require medical examinations of entering employees after they have already extended an offer of employment. However, employers cannot administer these medical exams in a discriminatory fashion and must require these medical exams from all new employees in the same job category.


Can my employer require me to work from home, when my family and I have no symptoms, in order to prevent the spread of an infectious disease?

Under the ADA, if there is an outbreak of a serious health concern, then employers are allowed to require employees to work from home. However, employers are not allowed to single out employees to work from home.


Is my boss required to grant me leave if I have been quarantined due to an infectious disease?

Many states do not have laws preventing employers from firing someone who is quarantined by the state, so long as there is no contract or union agreement. However, the following states do have laws that prevent employers from firing any employee or any full-time employee, that is quarantined: Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Carolina, and Texas.

For more information on state laws regarding quarantine, visit http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/state-quarantine-and-isolation-statutes.aspx.

Smoking and the Workplace

Do I have the right to smoke at work?

Smoking in the workplace is primarily regulated at the state level. Most states regulate smoking in the workplace to some degree. Federal laws have been passed to protect individuals from second hand smoke on airplanes and on Federal government property, but leave smoking regulations in the workplace to the discretion of the states through the exercise of their police power.

There is no federal law that governs smoking at work, so smoking regulations vary significantly from state to state. Some states prohibit smoking in indoor areas of the workplace. Some states prohibit smoking in workplaces, but allow employers to designate a smoking area.. Other states ban smoking altogether in the workplace. And a few states have NO laws restricting smoking at work. As for smoking outside the workplace, there are some states that permit smoking only in certain establishments, like bars, and other states that permit smoking everywhere, except in certain places, like hospitals and restaurants.

In addition to state laws, local city or county laws may impose stricter regulations on smoking at work. Even if there is not an applicable law, employers can have their own workplace smoking policies that prohibit smoking entirely or limit it to certain areas, like a break room, or outside area. While these laws have been challenged in court, they are generally upheld. To find out what the smoking laws are in your state, see our page on State Smoking Laws.


Do I have the right to a workplace free from secondhand smoke?

Some states have passed laws either requiring that the workplace be smoke free, or giving employers the right to declare their workplace smoke free. Other states have laws allowing employers to designate a specific “smoking area” that is separated from the workplace so employees may easily avoid exposure to second-hand smoke. However, if your state does not have a law, and your employer does not have a policy, then you may not be protected if your coworkers choose to smoke.


Is being around coworkers who smoke hazardous to my health?

Secondhand smoke leads to thousands of nonsmoker deaths per year from lung cancer and heart disease. Being around coworkers while they are smoking can be hazardous to your health, especially if you are breathing in tobacco smoke every day at work. The CDC reports that most exposure to secondhand smoke occurs in homes and workplaces.


Does workplace smoking violate health and safety laws like OSHA, which regulates exposure to hazardous substances?

OSHA, short for the Occupational Safety and Health Act, gives you, as an employee, the right to have a safe and hazard-free workplace. OSHA does have indoor air quality standards, but tobacco smoke almost never exceeds theses limits. In rare and extreme circumstances — for example, when tobacco smoke combines with another airborne contaminant in the workplace — the OSHA standards may be exceeded and OSHA will require the employer to remedy the situation. In general, exposure to tobacco smoke will be regulated solely by state laws, not OSHA or other federal laws. For more information about OSHA see our site’s workplace health and safety page.


I have a health condition that is aggravated by smoking. Is my employer required to accomodate me by preventing others from smoking?

An employee that has a legitimate health condition, which goes beyond mere annoyance, may require their employer to prevent harms from secondhand smoke. If you have a health condition that is aggravated by secondhand smoke, you should inform your supervisor of your condition and ask for an accommodation to prevent additional harm. Many state laws explicitly require employers to provide certain accommodations to non-smokers.

Examples of accommodations include segregation of smokers and non-smokers, restricting the areas where employees can smoke, and providing improved ventilation systems. If your employer does not reasonably accommodate you, you may be able to pursue a claim with your state’s health department or under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Courts are especially interested if the condition caused the employee to seek medical care, take time off from work, or change their daily activities. For more information on filing an ADA claim, see our site’s disability discrimination page.


Is it legal for an employer to only hire non-smokers?

With some restrictions, employers are free to hire whomever they want. Federal and state laws prohibit discriminating against people for a variety of reasons (for example, race, sex, and national origin). Existing anti-discrimination laws do not offer the same protection for those who smoke.

In some, it is legal for an employer to ask you whether you are a smoker, and to hire, or not hire you based on that answer. However, 29 states and the District of Columbia do prohibit discrimination based on legal activities outside the workplace, which includes smoking tobacco. In these states, it is illegal for an employer not to hire you simply because you are a smoker. Employers may be able to get around anti-discrimination laws in certain states if being a non-smoker is an important part of a specific job’s qualifications. For example, an anti-smoking advocacy group, like the American Lung Association, could choose not to hire smokers, and not be in violation of the applicable anti-discrimination laws.

The following states prohibit employers from refusing to hire smokers, unless being a smoker goes against a specific job qualification:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • District of Columbia
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming


Tobacco is a legal substance. Can I be fired for smoking away from work?

This depends on the state you live in.The twenty-nine states listed above and the District of Columbia have smoker protection laws which make it illegal to discriminate against an employee for the use of “lawful products outside the workplace,” (understood to refer to cigarettes) or for smoking in particular. In these states, you cannot be fired for legally using tobacco. However, many states do not have these laws, so employers are free to fire smokers, even if their tobacco use is solely outside the workplace. As with hiring, employers may terminate employment due to an employee’s smoking habit, if smoking infringes on a valid job requirement.


Is it legal for my employer to charge me more for my health insurance because I am a smoker?

Yes, in most cases. With health insurance costs raising dramatically in recent years, especially for smokers, many employers have started charging smokers higher premiums. Employers hope that increased premiums to smokers will encourage them to quit smoking, saving money and future health problems. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), which eliminates discrimination for many health conditions, still permits employers and insurers to increase premiums for smokers while reducing premiums for non-smokers. Even the state laws that protect smokers from being fired for smoking contain exceptions that allow employers to charge smokers higher insurance premiums.


Can I smoke from an electronic cigarette or vapor device at work?

Few states have statewide bans on smoking electronic cigarettes or vapor devices indoors. Those who do not often leave restrictions on smoking from electronics to the discretion of the localities. In nearly every state in the United States, smoking with devices of this type is prohibited in the workplace. The states with a statewide smoking ban include:

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Maine
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Oregon
  • Utah
  • Vermont

In many cases, electronic smoking devices are included in the smoke free laws of the states. Many state laws do not specifically mention electronic cigarette usage in the workplace. Some newer laws, like in Minnesota and South Dakota, specifically ban electronic cigarettes in workplaces. On the other hand, in Kansas, according to the Attorney General, e-cigarettes do not violate the State’s Clean Air Act of 2010, and there is no prohibition on smoking in workplaces. Due to the uncertainty in many states, employees should ask their employer what the company policy regarding e-cigarettes is.

While many state governments have not answered this question yet, some localities have attempted to ban e-cigarettes. You can find a list of localities that have banned e-cigarettes, as of October 2, 2015, at No-Smoke.org.


I work for a government agency that provides hazard pay, am I entitled to hazard pay when I have to work around secondhand smoke?

Probably not. Hazard pay is usually given when the employee perform tasks that are risker than usual. So, hazard pay depends on the risk associated with the job. Jobs that provide hazard pay usually have a requirement that the action has a much higher than usual probability to harm the employee. Federal courts have determined that for certain jobs, like prison guards, secondhand smoke exposer is not enough of a risk to give hazard pay. To see if secondhand smoke exposer qualifies an employee for hazard pay, the employee should determine how risky their job typically is, and how much risk secondhand smoke will add.


I have been injured by secondhand smoke, could I get compensation?

When an employee is injured at work they may qualify for Workers Compensation. In some states workers compensation commissioners have granted compensation if secondhand smoke exposure injured the employee while at work. But the standards may be high. Typically, the injury must be caused by regular and long-standing exposure to secondhand smoke, and the employee must have attempted to avoid smoke from other sources while not at work. If this occurs the commissioner may grant an employee past and future medical expenses and temporary disability benefits.


I believe that my employer's smoking policy violates my rights. What do I do?

The first thing you should do is voice your concerns to your employer. Your employer may be unaware that its policy is illegal or harmful to you. If your employer is unresponsive to your concerns, contact your state’s labor or health department, or a lawyer in your state. This is the best way to get more detailed information about the particular laws of your state, and what legal options are available to you.


Where can I get more information on nonsmokers rights in the workplace?

For more information, visit the Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights website at www.no-smoke.org.

State Smoking Laws


Alabama

Where is smoking NOT allowed?
In Alabama, for employers with five or more employees, workers may not smoke in common areas of enclosed workplaces. The law also prohibits smoking in individual, or personal work areas, if the employee states that their work area is a non-smoking area.

Where is smoking allowed?
In Alabama smoking is allowed in common work areas, if the majority of employees that work in the space agree to allow smoking there. Workers may also smoke in their private offices or rooms, in work areas that are not enclosed, and outside of the work areas. However an employer may still decide, without consent of the employees, to make any part, or all of a workplace smoke free.

What are the requirements for a smoking area?
Any smoking area must be ventilated or separated from non-smoking areas. And employers must provide signs to indicate that an area is a smoking area.

What are the requirements for a non-smoking area?
Employers must post signs notifying employees that an areas is a non-smoking area.


Alaska

Where is smoking NOT allowed?
In Alaska smoking is not allowed in the following areas, but there may be designated smoking rooms within or around these areas:

  • Any private place or business that posts signs regulating smoking;
  • Any restaurant with seating that holds at least 50 people;
  • Grocery stores;
  • Buildings that serve government functions;
  • Libraries;
  • Museums;
  • Child Care Facilities;
  • Hospitals / dental offices / mental health facilities / healthcare facilities;
  • Public transportation
    • Waiting areas
    • Baggage areas
    • Boarding areas
  • Courtrooms and jury deliberation rooms;
  • Any building used by the state senate, or state house of representatives;
  • Nursing home, rest home, or other residential health care institution;
  • Food service establishments with seating for 50 or more persons;
  • Correctional facility;
  • Alaska Pioneer’s Home or Alaska Veterans Home;
  • Private postsecondary educational institutions, and adult day cares;
  • Public or private elementary or secondary school, preschools, and children’s daycare facilities (indoors or outdoors).

Where may employees smoke?
In Alaska, smoking is permitted in any food service establishment with a seating capacity of 49 people or less, and in any place of business or vehicle that isn’t one of the above mentioned places AND has been designated as a workplace that allows smoking. Employees may smoke in any area that is a designated smoking break room. Smoking is permitted inside a limousine or taxicab if the driver and all passengers consent to smoking.

In Alaska, the following communities have smoke free workplace laws.

What are the requirements for a smoking area?
The area must be ventilated or separated from other areas that are non-smoking areas. Signs must specify if an area or vehicle allows smoking and the signs must be at least 18 inches wide and 6 inches high with lettering 1.25 inches high.


Arizona

Where is smoking NOT permitted?
In Arizona smoking is not permitted inside any enclosed building, unless the statute specifically allows for smoking in that type of place.

Where may employees smoke?
In Arizona employees may smoke in an outside area designated by the employer, but the smoking area may not be in a place where smoke can enter the builder or affect those entering or leaving the building. Smoking is permitted in retail tobacco stores, as long as they are physically separated from non-smoking areas. Smoking is also permitted in veterans and fraternal clubs that are not open to the public, and in theatrical performances only as part of the performance.

What are the requirements for non-smoking areas?
To properly designate a non-smoking area in the workplace, employers must post no smoking signs. Ashtrays must not be placed in non-smoking areas.

Do employers have to provide smoking areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoking areas.

Do employers have to provide non-smoking break areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoke-free areas.


Arkansas

Where can employees NOT smoke?
In Arkansas, workers cannot smoke in enclosed workplaces with three or more employees.

Where may employees smoke?
Smoking is permitted in non-enclosed workplaces, In enclosed workplaces with one or two employees, and in bars that do not allow individuals under 21 years old inside.

Do employers have to provide smoking areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoking areas.

Do employers have to provide non-smoking break areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoke-free areas.

Can an employee be punished for reporting that another employee is smoking at work in violation of Arkansas smoking laws? 
Employers may not discriminate or retaliate against an employee for complaining about another employee’s violation of these laws. Employers also cannot punish employees for asking about Arkansas’ smoking laws.


California

Where are employees NOT allowed to smoke?
In California, smoking is not allowed in most indoor workplaces, except in designated break rooms.

Where may employees smoke?
California employees may smoke in the following areas:

  • Designated lobby areas;
  • Meeting and banquet rooms where food is not currently being served;
  • Warehouses that are over 100,000 sq. ft., if there warehouse has 19 or fewer employees
  • Truck cabs
  • Vehicles used for work purposes
  • Break rooms that are designated for smokers.

The smoking or ingesting of recreational cannabis products is not allowed while behind the wheel.

Is my employer required to provide a smoking area? 
No. California employers are not required to designate smoking areas for employees, but if they do, the areas must be a non-work area where no employee is required to enter the room as part of their job during regular office hours. The air in smoking break rooms must be exhausted directly to the outside. No minors may be allowed in a smoking break room. And if there is a break room for smokers, there must also be enough break room space allocated for each non-smoking employee.


Colorado

Where is smoking NOT allowed?
In Colorado smoking is prohibited in most indoor workplaces that employee four or more people, with a few exceptions. Smoking is still permitted in outdoor areas of any business but cannot be within 15 feet of entrances and exits.

Where may employees smoke?
Colorado workers may smoke in the following places:

  • Workplaces not open to the public;
  • Places under the control of the employer;
  • Workplaces with three or less employees;
  • Retail tobacco business or cigar bar;
  • Any private building on a farm or ranch;

However, if an employer provides a smoking area in the workplace, the employer must also provide a smoke free environment for the rest of the workplace.

Do employers have to provide smoking areas? 
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoking areas.

Do employers have to provide non-smoking areas?
Yes, if requested.


Connecticut

Where is smoking NOT allowed?
In Connecticut, smoking is not allowed in the following places:

  • Enclosed workplaces with five or more employees;
  • State and local government buildings;
  • Health care facilities;
  • Retail food stores;
  • Restaurants;
  • Bars;
  • Schools that are in session;
  • Places of higher education;
  • Dog races.

Where is smoking allowed?
Smoking is permitted in the following places:

  • Employer designated smoking areas;
  • Any workplace that has four or less employees;
  • Vehicles used for work purposes;
  • Correctional facilities;
  • Tobacco bars.

Is my employer required to provide a smoking area? 
No.

What are theRequirements for smoking areas?
A designated smoking area must have a physical barrier separating the smoking room and the work area, and the smoking room must have ventilation to the outside of the building. The smoking area Must be a non-work area, where no employee is required to enter during work hours in order to do their job. The area must be for use of employees only.

Are employers required to provide nonsmoker areas? 
Yes. Any employer that provides smoking areas, must provide sufficient nonsmoking break areas as well. Nonsmoking areas must be clearly labeled as such.


Delaware

Where is smoking not allowed?
In Delaware, smoking is not permitted in any indoor workplace where it is possible for the general public to enter.

Where is smoking allowed?
Smoking is allowed in workplaces that the public are not allowed to enter.

Are employers required to provide smoking areas?
No, employers in Delaware are not required by law to provide smoking areas in the workplace.

If a smoking area is provided what are the requirements?
Any designated smoking area in the workplace must have a sign stating Warning: Smoking Permitted with letters at least 1 inch in height.


District of Columbia

Where is smoking not allowed?
In D.C. you may not smoke in your workplace if it is enclosed and the public is permitted to enter. You may smoke in any area that your employer has designated as a smoking area.

Where can employees smoke?
In D.C. you can smoke in the following areas:

  • Designated smoking areas that have a physical barrier or are in a separate room
  • Workplaces the public may not enter
  • Tobacco shops
  • Tobacco bars
  • Outdoor areas.

Do employers have to provide smoking areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoking areas.

Do employers have to provide non-smoking break areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoke-free areas.


Florida

Where are employees NOT allowed to smoke?
Generally, in Florida, employees are not allowed to smoke in MOST indoor workplaces, with a few exceptions listed below.

Where are employees permitted to smoke?
In Florida smoking is permitted in stand-alone bars, tobacco shops, designated smoking guest rooms at public lodging, and in customs smoking rooms at airports.

Do employers have to provide smoking areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoking areas.

Do employers have to provide non-smoking break areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoke-free areas.


Georgia

Where are employees NOT allowed to smoke?
In Georgia, smoking is prohibited in all enclosed public places, except in designated smoking rooms and the other exceptions noted below.

Where may employees smoke?
Employees may smoke in any non-enclosed workplace. Smoking is also permitted in the following areas:

  • Bars, so long as they deny entrance to those 17 or younger, OR smoking is allowed only in a private room with a ventilation system that is separate from the main air system;
  • Restaurants. Smoking is only allowed in a private room with a ventilation system that is separate from the main air system;
  • Certain workplaces that are open to the public by appointment only;
  • Any workplaces where the main function is dealing with tobacco products;
  • Vehicles used for work purposes;
  • Outdoor areas of employment.

Is my employer required to provide a smoking area?
No, Georgia employers are not required to provide workers with a smoking area, but your employer may do so if they wish.

What are the requirements for smoking areas?
If your employer does provide a smoking area, the area must be a non-work area, and no employee may be required to enter the area during the normal hours to do their job. The area must have a ventilation system that does not recycle the air, but instead sends the air outside, and the smoking area must be for employees only, not the public.


Hawaii

Where are employees not allowed to smoke?
In Hawaii, employees are not permitted to smoke in enclosed workplaces, or within 20 feet or any reasonable distance from an entrance to the building or ventilation intakes.

Where may employees smoke?
Employees may smoke in any outdoor workplace.

Do employers have to provide smoking areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoking areas.


Idaho

Where are employees not allowed to smoke?
In Idaho, smoking is not permitted in buildings that are open to the general public, except in designated smoking areas.

Where are employees allowed to smoke?
Smoking is permitted in the following locations:

  • Retail stores that PRIMARILY engage in the sale of tobacco or tobacco products;
  • Buildings owned by social, fraternal, or religious organizations when being used by the membership of the organization, their guests or families;
  • Any rented building that is rented or leased for private events from which the public is excluded;
  • Guest rooms in hotels, motels, and bed and breakfast lodging facilities, that are designated smoking areas;
  • Movie or play sites, if smoking is an integral part of the performance;
  • owner-operated businesses, that are not commonly open to the public, with no employees other than the owner-operators;
  • Any office or business, other than child care facilities, located within the proprietor’s private home when all such offices and/or businesses occupy less than fifty percent (50%) of the total area within the private home;
  • Idaho state veterans homes, so long as physical barriers and ventilation systems are used to reduce smoke in adjacent nonsmoking areas;
  • Outside of buildings
  • Any rooms designated for smoking

What are the requirements for smoking area?
Smoking areas are permitted according to the following guidelines:

  • Employer must only have five or fewer employees
  • Smoking area must not be accessible to minors
  • Area must be separated from the rest of the workplaces
  • Area cannot be the sole entrance to the building
  • No employee is required to enter the area during work hours

Are employers required to provide a smoking area?
No, designating a smoking area is at the discretion of the employer.


Illinois

Where is smoking NOT allowed?
In Illinois smoking is not allowed inside any building workplace. Smoking is also not allowed within 15 feet of the entrance, exit or ventilation intake of a workplace.

Where is smoking allowed?
Smoking is permitted outside, so long as you smoke 16 feet or further from the entrance, exit or ventilation intake of a workplace. Smoking is also allowed in retail tobacco stores and in smoking designated rooms of hotels and motels.

Is an employer required to provide a smoking area?
No, employers may decide whether to designate a smoking area or not.


Indiana

Where is smoking NOT allowed?
In Indiana smoking is generally not allowed in workplace, and not allowed within 8 feet of any public entrance to a public place of employment. There are a few exceptions listed below in number 3.

Do employers have to provide smoking areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoking areas.

Where is smoking allowed?
Smoking is permitted in horse racing facilities, on riverboats, in gambling facilities, in retail tobacco stores, cigar manufacturing facilities, cigar specialty stores, business that are located in business owner’s private residence, and also in the following establishments under certain conditions:

Any establishment that:

  • Was a business that allowed smoking on December 31, 2012,
  • Denies individuals under 21 years old to enter,
  • Owner holds beer, liquor, or wine permit,
  • Limits smoking to either;
    • Cigar smoking, OR
    • Water pipe / hookah
  • Earned 10% of annual gross income in previous year from sales of cigars or loose tobacco
  • There are many signs stating that smoking is allowed

An establishment that:

  • Is exempt from federal income taxation,
  • Is a fraternal club OR is a business that provides food or alcoholic beverages to only bona fide members and their guests,
  • The members voted each year to allow smoking,
  • Only allows smoking in certain areas,
  • Individuals under 18 may not enter,

Bars or taverns that:

  • Hold beer, liquor, and wine retailer’s permit,
  • Do not allow individuals less than 21 years of age.


Iowa

Where is smoking NOT allowed?
In Iowa smoking is not allowed in any enclosed indoor area. Employees may smoke outside of their place of employment, unless their employer limits where employees may smoke.

Where may employees smoke?
Smoking is permitted in workplaces that are not enclosed, outside of the workplaces, on State fairgrounds, In designated smoking areas of the National Guard, and in correctional facilities.

Do employers have to provide smoking areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoking areas.

Do employers have to provide non-smoking break areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoke-free areas.


Kansas

Where is smoking NOT allowed?
Employees may not smoke in enclosed workplaces, except for in the areas mentioned below in number 2.

Where is smoking allowed?
Smoking is permitted in outdoor areas of a workplace, the gaming floor of a lottery or racetrack, in tobacco shops, and in private clubs where minors are not allowed.

Do employers have to provide smoking areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoking areas.

Do employers have to provide non-smoking break areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoke-free areas.

Requirements for smoking area?
In Kansas smoking area must have physical barriers separating it from nonsmoking areas, and must have proper ventilation.

Do Kansas state laws apply to e-cigarettes?
No, It is up to the employer to decide whether e-cigarettes are allowed at the workplace.


Louisiana

Where is smoking NOT allowed?
In Louisiana, smoking is not allowed in enclosed workplaces. There are a few exceptions listed below in number 2.

Which areas are excluded from Louisiana’s ban on smoking indoors?
Smoking is permitted in bars, retail tobacco outlets, outdoor areas of place of employment, gambling establishments, hotels operated by gaming operation, and outdoor patios.

Do employers have to provide smoking areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoking areas.

Do employers have to provide non-smoking break areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoke-free areas.


Maine

Where is smoking NOT allowed?
Smoking is prohibited in all enclosed workplaces, and outside 20 feet from entrances, exits and vent intakes. There are a few exceptions below in number 2.

Where is smoking allowed?
Smoking is permitted outside if it is 21 feet or further from entrances, exits and vent intakes, in outdoor places of employment, in places of employment that are not open to the public, and in tobacco shops.

Do employers have to provide smoking areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoking areas.

Do employers have to provide non-smoking break areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoke-free areas.

If a smoking area is designated, what are the requirements?
Any designated smoking area must be outside and 20 feet away from entrances and ventilation intakes.


Maryland

Where is smoking NOT allowed?
Smoking is not allowed in indoor workplaces, with a few exceptions. Employers must post no smoking signs in front of each entrance of a workplace. Smoking is also not allowed in vehicles used in the course of employment

Where is smoking allowed?
Smoking is allowed in retail tobacco shops, research or educational laboratories that research tobacco, outside places of employment, and outside of a building.

Do employers have to provide smoking areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoking areas.

Do employers have to provide non-smoking break areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoke-free areas.


Massachusetts

Where is smoking NOT allowed?
Smoking is not allowed in enclosed workplaces in Massachusetts.

Where is smoking allowed?
Smoking is permitted in the following areas in Massachusetts:

  • retail tobacco stores,
  • smoking bars,
  • tobacco farmer/manufacture facility if the purpose is for testing
  • Outdoor places of employment
  • Outside of a building

Do employers have to provide smoking areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoking areas.

Do employers have to provide non-smoking break areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoke-free areas.


Michigan

Where is smoking NOT allowed?
In all workplaces, defined as any enclosed indoor area that contains 1 or more employees, smoking is not permitted.

Where is smoking allowed?
In Michigan, smoking is permitted in outdoor places of employment, and outside of indoor places of employment.

Do employers have to provide smoking areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoking areas.

Do employers have to provide non-smoking break areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoke-free areas.


Minnesota

Where is smoking NOT allowed?
Smoking is not permitted in indoor workplaces that have two or more individuals that are employees, or in public transportation vehicles.

Where is smoking allowed?
Smoking is permitted in outdoor places of employment, and outside of your place of employment.

Do employers have to provide smoking areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoking areas.

Do employers have to provide non-smoking break areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoke-free areas.

May I smoke Electronic cigarettes?
No, Minnesota workplace smoking laws were updated in 2014 to reflect modern use of electronic smoking devices, and specifically ban their use in the workplace.


Mississippi

Where may employees NOT smoke?

The State of Mississippi does not regulate private workplaces smoking policies.

Where may employees smoke?

Smoking is permitted in any area that an employer allows employees to smoke.

Do employers have to provide smoking areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoking areas.

Do employers have to provide non-smoking break areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoke-free areas.


Missouri

Where are employees NOT allowed to smoke?
Employees in Missouri are not permitted to smoke inmost indoor workplaces, with a few exceptions noted below.

Where may employees smoke?
Employees in Missouri may smoke in the following areas:

  • Bars / restaurants with fewer than 50 seats
  • Bowling alleys
  • Billiard parlors
  • Stadiums with more than 15,000 seating capacity
  • Outside of places of employment
  • Outdoor places of employment
  • Designated smoking areas

Requirements for designated indoor smoking areas:

  • The designated area may only be 30% or less of the building
  • There must be physical barriers separating the smoking areas
  • There must be a ventilation system that is separate from the rest of the business

Do employers have to provide smoking areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoking areas.

Do employers have to provide non-smoking break areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoke-free areas.


Montana

Where is smoking not allowed?
In Montana, smoking is prohibited in all enclosed indoor workplaces.

What do Montana’s smoking laws require?
Smoking is not allowed in any indoor area.

Do employers have to provide smoking areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoking areas.

Do employers have to provide non-smoking break areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoke-free areas.


Nebraska

Where is smoking is NOT allowed?
In Nebraska, smoking is prohibited in all enclosed indoor workplaces, with a few exceptions noted below.

What do Nebraska’s smoking laws require?
Smoking is not allowed in indoor area.

Where is smoking allowed?
Smoking is permitted in the following areas in Nebraska:

  • Outdoor work areas
  • Outside of your place of employment
  • Guest rooms that are rented and allow smoking
  • Indoor areas where scientific research is being done on smoking
  • Tobacco retail outlets
  • Cigar bars

Do employers have to provide smoking areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoking areas.

Do employers have to provide non-smoking break areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoke-free areas.


Nevada

Which work areas are you not allowed to smoke?
In Nevada, smoking is prohibited in all enclosed indoor workplaces.

Where may employees smoke?
Smoking is permitted in Outside areas.

Do employers have to provide smoking areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoking areas.

Do employers have to provide non-smoking break areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoke-free areas.


New Hampshire

Where are employees NOT allowed to smoke?
In New Hampshire, employees are prohibited from smoking in the following areas:

  • Public educational faculties, during hours open to the public
  • Hospitals or care facilities
  • Grocery stores when by customers
  • Restaurants
  • Cocktail lounges
  • Enclosed places owned by fraternal or religious organizations when they are open to the public
  • Employees are not allowed to smoke in workplaces with four or more employees

Where are employees allowed to smoke?
Smoking is permitted inside any building that doesn’t fall under the category mentioned above, and outside of any building.

Do employers have to provide smoking areas?
No, employers may provide smoking areas, however, the following workplaces may not provide smoking areas:

  • Restaurants
  • Cocktail lounges
  • Grocery stores

What are the requirements for smoking areas?
The following requirements apply to designated smoking areas in any workplace:

  • Segregated from the rest of the workplace
  • The size and location of the areas must be reasonable so it does not affect non-smokers
  • Ventilation systems must be used
  • Smoking area must not be near ventilation intake areas

Do employers have to provide non-smoking areas?
Generally, no. However, if an employee has a proven medical condition that is affected by secondhand smoke, a non-smoking environment must be provided by the employer.


New Jersey

Where are employees not allowed to smoke?
Employees are prohibited in all enclosed indoor workplaces, with some exceptions noted below.

Where are employees allowed to smoke?
Smoking is permitted in the following places:

  • Cigar bar /cigar lounge
  • Any tobacco retail shops
  • Tobacco manufacturing facility
    • When done for testing purposes
  • Casinos
  • Hotel smoking rooms

Do employers have to provide smoking areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoking areas.

Do employers have to provide non-smoking break areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoke-free areas.

Are there any recent changes in the law that I should be aware of?
Effective November 2017, only persons 21 years of age and older may purchase tobacco products or electronic smoking devices in the state of New Jersey.


New Mexico

Where are employees NOT allowed to smoke?
Smoking is prohibited in all enclosed indoor workplaces where the employer has more than two employees, with a few exceptions noted below. An employer with fewer than two employees may allow smoking if the workplace is not accessible to the public and is not a bar or restaurant.

Where are employees allowed to smoke?
Smoking is permitted in the following areas:

  • Jobs that take place outside
  • Outside of buildings where an employee works
  • Places of employment where only one employee is hired
  • Cigar bar /cigar lounge
  • Any tobacco retail shops
  • Tobacco medical or scientific testing
  • Casinos / bingo parlor
  • Private clubs
  • Hotel smoking rooms

Do employers have to provide smoking areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoking areas.

Do employers have to provide non-smoking areas?
Yes, an employer must provide a designated smoke-free area if an employee requests it.


New York

Where are employees not allowed to smoke?
Smoking is prohibited inside all workplaces, with a few exceptions noted below.

Where are employees allowed to smoke?
Smoking is permitted in the following areas:

  • Retail tobacco business
  • Cigar bars
  • Outdoor smoking area in restaurant if smoking is specifically permitted by the employer
  • Workplaces that are located outside

Do employers have to provide smoking areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoking areas.

Do employers have to provide non-smoking break areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoke-free areas.


North Carolina

Where are employees not allowed to smoke?
Many places of employment may permit smoking if the employer allows it. However the following workplaces may not permit smoking:

  • Bars
  • Restaurants
  • State government buildings and state vehicles

Do employers have to provide smoking areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoking areas.

Do employers have to provide non-smoking break areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoke-free areas.


North Dakota

Where are employees not allowed to smoke?
Employees may not smoke in indoor workplaces. Smoking is allowed in outdoor areas, except within 20 feet of entrances, exits, operable windows, air intakes, and ventilation systems of enclosed areas.

Do employers have to provide smoking areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoking areas.

Do employers have to provide non-smoking break areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoke-free areas.


Ohio

Where are employees NOT allowed to smoke?
Employees may not smoke inside public places of employment. Exceptions are made for family owned and operated businesses, if all employees are related to the employer and the area is not open to the public, and for retail tobacco stores.

Where are employees allowed to smoke?
Employees may smoke outside, so long as the area is one that has a low chance of the smoke entering the building. Tobacco may not enter through the entrance, windows, or ventilation systems.

Do employers have to provide smoking areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoking areas.

Do employers have to provide non-smoking break areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoke-free areas.


Oklahoma

Where are employees NOT allowed to smoke?
Employees may not smoke inside buildings or public transportation, unless there is an area that is specifically designated as a smoking area. Employees may not smoke within 15 feet of an exterior public doorway or intake vents for restaurants.

Where are employees allowed to smoke?
Smoking is permitted is all areas of the workplace, except:

  • family owned and operated business, if all employees are related to the employer and the area only has occasional public access, and
  • retail tobacco stores

What do Oklahoma’s smoking laws require?
Employees may not smoke in areas that are not designated smoking areas.

Requirements for smoking areas inside workplaces?

  • The areas must be an area where no job function is required during work hours
  • The area must have ventilation systems that exhaust air at least 15 feet from entrances, exist and other air intake spots
  • The area must be fully enclosed
  • Air may not circulate with nonsmoking areas
  • Negative air pressure cannot force smoke out to non-smoking areas
  • Employer must post signs indicate if a room is a smoking room

Do employers have to provide smoking areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoking areas.

Do employers have to provide non-smoking break areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoke-free areas.


Oregon

Where are employees NOT allowed to smoke?
Employees in Oregon are prohibited from smoking in any enclosed areas used by employees. The only exceptions to this rule are smoke shops, cigar bars, and rooms at hotels where only 25% of the rooms are smoking rooms.

Where may employees not smoke?
Employees may not smoke in any building, or within10 feet of a building’s entrances, exists, open windows, or vent intakes.

Do employers have to provide smoking areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoking areas.

Do employers have to provide non-smoking break areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoke-free areas.

Are there any recent changes in the law that I should be aware of?
Effective January 2, 2018 , only persons 21 years of age and older may purchase tobacco products or electronic smoking devices in the state of Oregon.


Pennsylvania

Where are employees NOT allowed to smoke?

Employees in Pennsylvania may not smoke inside any building. Smoking is permitted in outdoor areas if the employer designates areas as smoking permitted areas, with signs.

Where may employees smoke?
Employees may smoke in all of the following areas in Pennsylvania:

  • outside
  • Smoke shops
  • Manufacture, importer, or wholesaler of tobacco products
  • Hotel rooms with rooms that have only 25% of the rooms as smoking rooms
  • Separate enclosed rooms designated for smoking in residential adult care facilities, mental health care facility, drugs and alcohol facility, or other health care facility
  • Gaming floors
    • But only designated areas that total 50% or less of the space or less
  • Outdoor smoking areas in sporting or recreational facilities, theaters, or performance places

Do employers have to provide smoking areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoking areas.

Do employers have to provide non-smoking break areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoke-free areas.


Rhode Island

Where are employees NOT allowed to smoke?
In Rhode Island, employees may not smoke in most buildings. Employees may smoke in outdoor areas, if the employer permits it.

Where are employees allowed to smoke?
Employees may smoke in any of the following areas:

  • outside
  • Tobacco retail shops
  • Outdoor places of employment
  • Hotel rooms with rooms that have only 50% of the rooms as smoking rooms
  • Separate enclosed rooms designated for smoking in residential assisted living and nursing facilities
  • Stage performance, so long as smoking is part of the performance

Do employers have to provide smoking areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoking areas.

Do employers have to provide non-smoking break areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoke-free areas.


South Carolina

Where may employees not smoke?

In South Carolina, employees may not smoke in public buildings. Smoking is permitted by law in all private workplaces, so long as it is permitted by the employer. This includes restaurants and bars. Examples of public workplaces where smoking is not allowed are

  • Public transportation vehicles (except taxis)
  • Children’s services
  • Public schools
  • Libraries
  • Government buildings

Do employers have to provide smoking areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoking areas.

Do employers have to provide non-smoking break areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoke-free areas.


South Dakota

Where may employees not smoke?
Employees may not smoke in most enclosed buildings. Smoking is permitted in smoking room in hotels and motels, cigar bars, and tobacco retail stores where at least 65% of profits come from tobacco and no alcohol is used or sold.

Where is smoking allowed?
Employees may smoke in outdoor areas, if the employer permits it.

Do employers have to provide smoking areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoking areas.

Do employers have to provide non-smoking break areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoke-free areas.

Do e-cigarettes count as smoking?
Yes. Where smoking is prohibited, using e-cigarettes is also prohibited.


Tennessee

Where may employees not smoke?
Employees may not smoke in most enclosed buildings. Employees may smoke in outdoor areas as long as their employer permits it, and in the following areas, unless it is prohibited by the employer:

  • Age-restricted venues
  • Smoking rooms in hotels and motels, If guest has rented room
  • Tobacco retail stores
    • So long as 65% of profits come from tobacco sales
    • Cannot allow use of alcohol
  • Tobacco manufacture, importer, or wholesaler
  • Non-enclosed work areas
  • Nursing homes and long-term care facilities that do not let smoke leave the designated smoking areas
  • Outdoor areas of the workplace, if the employer permits
  • Commercial vehicles when only the driver is in the vehicle

Do employers have to provide smoking areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoking areas.

Do employers have to provide non-smoking break areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoke-free areas.


Texas

Where may employees NOT smoke?
Texas names the following workplaces as those where employees may not smoke:

  • Child care centers / homes
  • Elevators
  • Enclosed theaters
  • Libraries
  • Museums
  • Transit systems
  • Planes
  • Buses

Do employers have to provide smoking areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoking areas.

Do employers have to provide non-smoking break areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoke-free areas.


Utah

Where is smoking not allowed?
Smoking is not permitted in almost all indoor workplaces with a few exceptions noted below. Smoking is also not permitted within 25 feet of any entrance, exit, open window, or air intake.

Where is smoking allowed?
The following workplaces are exempt from ban on smoking:

  • Owner-operated business that has no employees, other than the owner, so long as the public usually don’t enter the area
  • Smoking areas in Salt Lake City International Airport
  • Smoking rooms in hotels / motels
  • Hookah bars
  • E-cigarettes shops (only for smoking e-cigarettes)

May I smoke e-cigarettes at work? No. The only place where smoking e-cigarettes is permitted is in shops where 75% or more of the products for sale are e-cigarettes or related items.

Do employers have to provide smoking areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoking areas.

Do employers have to provide non-smoking break areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoke-free areas.


Vermont

Where is smoking not allowed?
Smoking is not permitted in most enclosed structures. As of July 1, 2016, this prohibition also extends to electronic cigarettes, and any other battery operated device that delivers nicotine or any other substances into the body through inhaled vapor.

Where is smoking allowed?
Smoking is permitted in areas not commonly open to the public, so long as the business is owner-operated and there are no employees, or the area is also the employee’s residence.

Do employers have to provide smoking areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoking areas.

Do employers have to provide non-smoking break areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoke-free areas.


Virginia

Employees may not smoke inside schools and child care facilities, or office building occupied by executive branch agencies. Employees may ONLY smoke in the following areas so long as employers provide separated and ventilated areas smoking areas:

  • Retail stores
  • Grocery stores
  • Health care facilities
  • Restaurants / Bars

Where is smoking allowed?
All businesses where smoking is not explicitly prohibited by law may permit smoking at the employer’s discretion. Employees may still smoke outside of the prohibited workplaces named above, unless the employer prohibits it.

Do employers have to provide smoking areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoking areas.

Do employers have to provide non-smoking break areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoke-free areas.


Washington

Where is smoking not allowed?
Employees may not smoke in any enclosed workplace that is open to the public. This includes buildings and vehicles.

Where can employees smoke?
Unless employers restrict such actions, employees may smoke outside so long as they are 25 feet or further from any entrance or exit. Smoking is also permitted in workplaces that are NOT open to the public.

Do employers have to provide smoking areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoking areas.

Do employers have to provide non-smoking break areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoke-free areas.


West Virginia

Where is smoking not allowed?
Employees may not smoke in government buildings, inside school, or inside child care facilities.

Where may employees smoke?
In West Virginia, smoking is permitted inside any building not specifically prohibited above, or outside of any workplace.

Do employers have to provide smoking areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoking areas.

Do employers have to provide non-smoking break areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoke-free areas.


Wisconsin

Where is smoking not allowed?
Smoking is not permitted in most enclosed workplaces, with some exceptions noted below. Outdoor locations where smoking is prohibited are sports arenas, bus shelters, and public conveyances.

Where are employees allowed to smoke?
Employees may smoke in retail tobacco stores that only allow smoking cigars and pipes, tobacco bars, and assisted living facilities.

Do employers have to provide smoking areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoking areas.

Do employers have to provide non-smoking break areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoke-free areas.


Wyoming

Where is smoking not allowed?
Smoking is only prohibited in buildings controlled by the Capitol Building Commission, but these buildings usually have designated areas where smoking is allowed.

Where is smoking allowed?
All workplaces may allow smoking. The only restrictions are those implemented by the employer.

Do employers have to provide smoking areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoking areas.

Do employers have to provide non-smoking break areas?
No. Employers are not required to provide designated smoke-free areas.

General Information About Workers’ Compensation


What is workers' compensation?

Workers compensation is a program that provides benefits to certain workers or their dependents who suffer a work-related injury or disease. Workers’ compensation benefits may include

  • wage replacement,
  • medical treatment,
  • vocational rehabilitation, and
  • other benefits

The workers’ compensation system evolved quickly after the turn of the 20th century in this country. Along with the industrial revolution came bigger, faster, and more complex machinery, and many more work place hazards. Congress passed the Workers’ Compensation Act for federal employees in 1908. Each state has now passed workers’ compensation laws providing benefits for workplace injuries and illness.

While the workers’ compensation program is national, the states are responsible for implementing it, which means that important aspects of the program vary according to the laws of your state.

These laws were initially put in place to balance the rights of workers and employers and provide a way to settle differences quickly and privately. Both the employer and employee give up some legal rights under the workers’ compensation laws of the various states. The employee gives up the right to go to court and sue his employer for on-the-job injuries which, in some states, could be for unlimited amounts of damages (although many states have passed laws capping the amount of damages). Instead, the worker is entitled to receive a definite award, based upon fixed maximums set by the various states.

In return, employers give up the right to deny responsibility due to potential negligence by the employee that may have contributed to the injury. The workers’ compensation systems are considered “no-fault” systems. Employers finance the system primarily through insurance premiums, although in some states, companies may self-insure, which means that they pay all claims themselves.


What types of injuries are covered?

There are four different types of work-related injuries that qualify for workers’ compensation. You may be eligible for compensation for any of the injuries listed below:

  • Any physical injury on the job, which can include exposure to dust, toxins, hearing loss caused by workplace and repetitive motion injury – such as carpal tunnel.
  • Preexisting conditions that the workplace accelerates or aggravates. Examples may include a back injury, even though you do not notice the pain from the injury until later.
  • Injuries caused during breaks, lunch hours, and work-sponsored activities (such as a company picnic), and at-work injuries caused by company facilities, such as a chair in the company lunchroom.
  • Injuries resulting from mental and physical strain brought on by increased work duties or work-related stress. In some states, this includes employees who develop a disabling mental condition because of the demands of the job and a supervisor’s constant harassment. Mental distress caused by something other than an initial physical injury is sometimes excluded from workers’ compensation completely, depending on your state.


What types of injuries are not covered?

In some cases, injuries that occur at work are not covered by workers’ compensation, they include:

  • self-inflicted injuries (including those caused by a person who starts a fight);
  • injuries suffered while a worker was committing a serious crime;
  • injuries suffered while an employee was not on the job;
  • injuries suffered when an employee’s conduct violated company policy; and
  • injuries suffered when an employee was intoxicated.


What types of illnesses are covered?

Diseases contracted by exposure to toxins at work are covered by workers’ compensation. The Disease must have been contracted under normal working conditions.


What if someone is killed on the job? Can the employee's survivors receive workers' compensation benefits?

Yes, the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) provides compensation for survivors of federal civilian employees who are killed. Although workers’ compensation coverage varies from state to state, generally employees’ survivors are eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits.


I was injured when a machine at work malfunctioned. Even though I cannot sue my employer, what about the manufacturer of the machine?

There are a few exceptions to the rule that workers compensation is your exclusive remedy for a work-related injury or illness. If your injury was caused by the negligence of a third party, someone other than your employer or a coworker, you are free to sue that person for damages.

For example: If your injury was the result of a machine malfunction, and that malfunction was caused by the manufacturer’s negligence you are eligible for workers’ compensation and you can sue the manufacturer responsible for the machine malfunction. Another example would be if someone ran a red light and hit the company truck you were driving while making deliveries for your employer. You are eligible for workers compensation and you can sue the person who caused your injury. Your employer can sue this negligent third party to recover the workers’ compensation benefits he is required to pay to you. Your employer could also join in your lawsuit and seek reimbursement of their obligations out of your damage award. Most states require employees to notify their employers if they intend to sue a third party.


I was injured in a car accident on the way to work while driving the company car. Can I receive workers' compensation benefits?

Yes, if an employee is injured while traveling to or from work and the employer has agreed to provide the worker with the means of transportation, or pay the employee’s cost of commuting, or if travel is required while performing their duties, then the employee can receive workers’ compensation benefits. This can be a complicated legal issue, so it may be best to contact an attorney who regularly represents employees in workers’ compensation cases for more information.


Will my workers' compensation case go to court?

An employee making a workers’ compensation claim will never see a jury. The right to a trial in court is one of the rights waived in the workers’ compensation system. Workers’ compensation systems are administrative in nature, and cases are ruled on by administrative law judges. Many workers’ compensation claims are settled before a hearing is needed.

One issue that parties may have difficulty settling is how much compensation is enough when a worker has suffered a permanent disability. This issue may need to be decided by an administrative judge if the parties cannot settle on how much is enough to compensate someone for a lifetime of disability. Some states allow lump sum settlements for permanent disability, and others allow weekly payments.


Should I hire a workers' compensation lawyer?

While it is not required, hiring a workers’ compensation lawyer is advisable. A workers’ compensation lawyer has expertise in the field and knows how to get through all the forms and do things right the first time to prevent a denial of your claim. Not only will a lawyer make getting your compensation easier, but it can also help you recover by reducing stress.

If you’re worried about the cost of a lawyer, many lawyers will speak with you about your situation for free or for a small fee before you decide to hire them or not. Workplace Fairness can help you find a lawyer who practices regularly in workers’ compensation.


Can I be fired for filing a workers' compensation claim?

No, workers’ compensation laws in almost all states prevent employers from disciplining workers for filing a workers’ compensation claim. It does not matter if the claim is eventually thrown out; your employer is not allowed to retaliate. If your employer does discipline, discharge, or fire you, you have a case against your employer as long as the disciplinary action was related to your workers’ compensation claim.


Where can I find more information?

Visit Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Your State to get information about how to file. Find contact information for your state’s government agency in charge of workers’ compensation at our State Government Agencies page.

Who is Covered by Workers’ Compensation


Are all employees covered by workers' compensation?

Many, but not all, employees are entitled to workers’ compensation. The Federal Employment Compensation Act (FECA) provides non-military, federal employees with workers compensation. Workers employed by private companies, states, or local governments should contact their state workers’ compensation board for specifics about coverage.

Some states exempt certain categories of workers, such as agricultural employees, seasonal employees, domestic employees, and independent contractors, from their workers’ compensation systems. Other states require coverage only if an employer employs a minimum number of employees. To determine whether you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, you should contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney in your area.

Keep in mind that if you are not covered by workers’ compensation, you may be able to bring a civil claim against your employer or a third party.


I am an independent contractor that was injured on a work site. Can I receive workers' compensation benefits?

Maybe. Some states exempt independent contractors from workers’ compensation. You should contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney in your area to determine whether you can receive workers’ compensation in your state.


I work for a small company. Am I entitled to workers compensation in my state?

Maybe. Each state has a different requirement for which employers must offer workers compensation. Below you will find the minimum state requirements for employers to provide worker compensation.

Alabama 5 or more employees
Alaska 1 or more employees
Arizona 1 or more employees
Arkansas 3 or more employees
California 1 or more employees
Colorado 1 or more employees
Connecticut 1 or more employees
Delaware 1 or more employees
District of Columbia 1 or more employees
Florida 1 or more employees for construction

6 or more employees for agriculture

Special requirements for sub-contractors

Georgia 3 or more employees
Hawaii 1 or more employees
Idaho 1 or more employees
Illinois 1 or more employees
Indiana 1 or more employees
Iowa Most employers are required to purchase insurance
Kansas For employees with gross payroll over $20,000
Kentucky 1 or more employees
Louisiana 1 or more employees
Maine 1 or more employees. Exemptions for independent contractors.
Maryland 1 or more employees
Massachusetts 1 or more employee. Domestic service must be covered if they work 16 or more hours per week
Michigan 1 or more employees
Minnesota 1 or more employees, including non-US citizens and minors
Mississippi 5 or more employees
Missouri 5 or more employees
Montana 1 or more employees
Nebraska 1 or more employees
Nevada 1 or more employees
New Hampshire 1 or more employees, including non-profits
New Jersey 1 or more employees. Excluding out of state employees working in the state.
New Mexico 3 or more employees.
New York 1 or more employees
North Carolina 3 or more employees
North Dakota 1 or more employees
Ohio 1 or more employees
Oklahoma 1 or more employees
Oregon 1 or more employees
Pennsylvania 1 or more employees
Rhode Island 4 or more employees
South Carolina 4 or more employees
South Dakota 1 or more employees
Tennessee 1 or more employees
Texas Optional for employers in Texas.

Construction companies on contract with government entities must have coverage.

Utah 1 or more employees
Vermont 1 or more employees
Virginia 2 or more employees
Washington 1 or more employees
West Virginia 1 or more employees
Wisconsin 3 or more employees
Wyoming 1 or more employees

Workers’ Compensation Benefits


What types of benefits can be recovered through the workers' compensation system?

Recovery is usually allowed for three basic types of benefits:

  • Temporary disability: benefits paid following an accident when the injured employee is unable to perform his or her regular job duties. These are designed to take the place of wages, however, usually do not amount to the entire amount of lost wages.
  • Medical aid required to treat the result of the injury or occupational disease.
  • Payment for permanent disability, which may include vocational rehabilitation benefits.

All three types of benefits are regulated by laws that explain what types of medical benefits are payable. The laws also set limits for the award of temporary and permanent disability.


How much will I receive if I am unable to work due to my on-the-job injuries?

If you become temporarily unable to work, you’ll usually receive two-thirds of your average wage up to a fixed ceiling. But because these payments are tax-free, if you received decent wages prior to your injury, you’ll fare reasonably well in most states. If you are married or have dependents you may receive three-fourths of your pay.

If you become permanently unable to do the work you were doing prior to the injury, or unable to do any work at all, you may be eligible to receive long-term or lump-sum benefits. The amount of the payment will depend on the nature and extent of your injuries. If you anticipate a permanent work disability, contact your local workers’ compensation office as soon as possible. These benefits are rather complex and may take a while to process. Keep in mind that if you are permanently unable to return to work, you may also qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. If you think you may qualify for Social Security Benefits, we recommend that you contact a local attorney who has expertise in Social Security cases.

In addition to wages, workers’ compensation covers hospital, physician, medication, and transportation costs to the doctor’s office for medical treatment. Other benefits may include an attendant’s allowance, vocational rehabilitation, and death benefits if the cause of death is related to the accepted job injury.


What types of medical care will workers' compensation pay for?

You have a right to all reasonable necessary treatment to cure or relieve the effects of the injury. Included under medical treatment compensation are all medical bills, prescriptions, and even roundtrip mileage to the hospital. You will probably have a schedule of maximum allowable medical charges. The employee is not responsible for amounts charged in excess of the maximum allowable medical charges. However, in many states, non-emergency treatment must be authorized in advance in order to get reimbursement. The schedule is not applicable to hospital, pharmacy, or nursing home charges.


What if I am unable to go back to the type of job that I performed before I was hurt at work?

If an injury prevents you from returning to your former job, assistance in getting another job (vocational rehabilitation) might be included in workers’ compensation benefits. During vocational rehabilitation, a partial income is distributed, similar to temporary disability. The vocational rehabilitation benefit usually has a maximum monetary limit, and may be replaced by an offer of modified or different work from the employer.


What if I am unable to work at all after I am injured?

If your injuries make it difficult for you to compete for a job with those who are uninjured, you could be entitled to a monetary award for your permanent disability. The amount and rate at which permanent disability is paid depends on how great a limitation the injury places on one’s activities. Other elements taken into consideration are age, occupation and earnings at the time of injury. The determination of whether an accident caused a partial or permanent disability can involve tens of thousands of dollars (usually, as compensation for future wages).


I will eventually be able to go to work, but my injuries are permanent. Does the company have to pay for my medical care after I go back to work?

Yes. You can receive medical care for as long as the medical evidence shows your partial disability is related to the accepted injury or condition, although in some states you may face great difficulty in getting reimbursed for medical pay if you are partially disabled and able to work. You may be required to undergo continuing medical examinations.

In addition, you may receive compensation for the loss of earning capacity you suffered if you are unable to resume regular work because of injury-related disability. This compensation is paid on the basis of the difference between your capacity to earn wages after an injury and the wages of the job you held when injured (compensation = wages of job before an injury – capacity to earn wages after an injury).


Do I have to pay taxes on my workers' compensation award?

You do not pay tax on workers compensation received by you or your survivors for job related sickness or injuries paid under a workers compensation act or workers compensation statute.

The workers compensation tax exemption on your tax return does not apply, however, to retirement plan benefits you receive based on age, length of service, or prior contributions to the plan, even though you retired because of an occupational sickness or injury.

If your employer continues to pay your regular salary or wages and requires you to turn over your workers compensation benefits, then you will be taxed on the excess amount, over and above your workers compensation benefits, that was paid to you by your employer.

The part of your workers compensation that reduces your social security benefits or equivalent railroad retirement benefits is considered social security benefits and may be taxable on your tax return under rules for those types of income. Accordingly, your workers compensation may be indirectly subject to tax on your tax return.

What To Do If You Are Injured At Work


What should I do if I am injured at work?

The most important thing for employees to know is that any time you are injured on the job, you should report the injury immediately to a supervisor, in writing if possible. Some states require that notice to the employer be made in writing, while others allow a verbal notice. However, to be safe, employees should report all on-the-job injuries to supervisory personnel in writing. Since some states have a short filing deadline (called the statute of limitations), you should file immediately so that you do not lose any legal rights you may have to receive workers compensation benefits from your employer.

If your injury or illness requires it, you should also seek medical care immediately.


If I'm hurt or get sick at work, can I see my own doctor, or do I have to be treated by the company's doctor?

Under the FECA you may initially select any qualified doctor to be your treating doctor – although the law does place some restrictions on the use of chiropractors.

If you are not a federal employee, you are not covered by the FECA, and state law will apply. In some states, you have a right to see your own doctor if you make this request in writing before the injury occurs. More typically, however, injured workers are referred to a doctor recruited and paid for by their employers. Usually, you will only be required to see the company doctor for a maximum of 30 days, and then you will be able to choose your own physician.

Under FECA, if your doctor submits medical reports that address workers’ compensation officials’ questions and concerns, usually no problem will arise unless your employer asks for a second opinion examination. The following guidelines apply to second opinion exams:

  • The doctor is chosen by the agency and need not be Board-certified in any field of medical expertise (although many are).
  • The agency pays all associated expenses and is responsible for forwarding to the second opinion doctor all relevant medical documents, a statement of accepted facts (a ‘SOAF’), and any specific questions that it wants the doctor to address.
  • Under the statute, you have the right to bring your own doctor to these exams.
  • Any representative you’ve appointed must receive formal notice of the exam.
  • The doctor must submit a written report within 30 days of the exam.
  • The doctor is supposed to provide only medical opinions.
  • If the initial second opinion report is unclear, the workers’ comp office is responsible for following up and requesting a supplemental report.

If the second opinion doctor’s report agrees with your treating doctor’s opinions, there generally is no problem, and FECA compensation payments will continue uninterrupted. If the second opinion doctor’s report is different from the first doctor’s report there are two options: the office can either weigh the medical evidence to determine which doctor’s opinion is more accurate or declare a “tie” and seek a third doctor’s opinion.

The workers’ comp office will usually give more weight to the second opinion doctor’s evaluation than to the treating physician’s.

If your compensation is modified based on the second opinion, you have the right to appeal.

If the agency decides the conflicting medical opinions are of equal weight and declares a “tie,” it will appoint a third doctor, or “referee,” to resolve any conflicts in the medical evidence.

Your doctor’s report will have a big impact on the benefits you receive. Keep in mind that a doctor paid for by your employer’s insurance company is not your friend. The desire to get future business from your employer or the insurance company may motivate a doctor to minimize the seriousness of your injury or to identify it as a pre-existing condition. For example, if you injure your back and the doctor asks you if you have ever had back problems before, it would be unwise to treat the doctor to a 20-year history of every time you suffered a minor pain or ache. Just say “no” unless you have suffered a significant previous injury or chronic condition.


How do I file a workers' compensation claim?

Filing a workers’ compensation claim is similar to filing any other insurance claim. It is not a lawsuit against an employer, but rather a request for benefits.

The first step in filing a claim is to notify your employer. No matter how the employer learns of the incident, they must offer you a claim form immediately. Until this claim form is completed, the employer has no obligation to provide benefits. Your employer should be able to supply you with the forms needed to file a claim. In fact, most states require the employer, doctors’ offices, and hospital emergency rooms to have the forms which start the process. If they cannot, immediately contact your state Workers’ Compensation Office, which can be located through our site’s state government agencies page. When filling out the form complete only the “Employee” section. Be sure to SIGN and DATE the claim form. It is important that you keep a copy of the claim form for your records. Return the claim form to your employer. You may hand-deliver or mail it to your employer. If you choose to mail the claim form, we recommend you use certified mail-return receipt requested. It is important to file quickly because otherwise, you could be subject to delays in receiving your benefits.

Your employer should then complete the “Employer” section and forward the completed claim form to his workers’ compensation insurance company. Your employer should give you a copy of the completed claim form. You should request a copy from your employer in the event you do not receive one. Keep a copy for your records. Generally the insurance company has fourteen (14) days to mail you a status letter about your claim. If you don’t receive this letter, you should call the insurance company.

What if my employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance?

Other than a few exceptions, such as agricultural employees, domestic employees, and independent contractors, employers are required by law to have workers’ compensation insurance. If your employer claims that they do not have workers’ compensation insurance, contact an attorney as soon as possible or call your State’s labor department or workers compensation office, which can found on our site’s state government agencies page.

If your employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance, your state likely has a fund out of which they will pay for your workers’ compensation benefits. You may also be able to sue for negligence if an employer required to do so does not carry workers compensation insurance.


Do I need a lawyer?

If you need a lawyer depends on the complexity of your case. If you are not sure you understand any part of your case, be sure to contact a local workers’ compensation lawyer. If you stand before an administrative or court judge you should hire a lawyer to represent you.


What if I am not happy with how my claim is resolved?

If you are a federal employee covered by FECA, the following will apply: If you disagree with a final determination of the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) you may request an oral hearing or a review of the written record from the Branch of Hearings and Review. Oral or written evidence in further support of the claim may be presented. You may also request a reconsideration of a decision by submitting a written request to the District Office which issued the decision. The request must be accompanied by evidence not previously submitted. If reconsideration has been requested, a hearing on the same issue may not be granted.

You may also request a review by the Employees’ Compensation Appeals Board (ECAB). Because the ECAB rules solely on the evidence of record at the time the decision was issued, no additional evidence may be presented. You may not file through the state or federal system; once a final ruling has been made by ECAB there are no further outlets to have the decision overturned.

If your employer disputes your benefit claim, you may ask for a hearing in front of the Workers’ Compensation board. If you lose, you may appeal to take your case before a Workers’ Compensation Administrative Law Judge. If you still lose, you might be able to take it to court in the judicial system.

If you are not a federal employee, you are not covered by the FECA, and state law will apply.However, most states’ workers’ compensation laws provide for a similar appeals process.


What are the rules about workers compensation in my state?

Each state has different rules, guidelines, and deadlines within the framework of workers compensation law. See our page on Filing a Workers Compensation Claim for more information about what to do in your state.

Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Your State


Alabama Department of Labor: Workers' Compensation

 

  1. I had an accident at work. How do I file a workers compensation claim in my state?If you are injured at work, you must: 1) immediately report the injury to your supervisor, boss, or employer and 2) check with your supervisor or employer about which doctor you should see to examine your work related injury.To properly file a claim, you must notify your employer with the details of your accident and subsequent injury, and make an application to your employer to receive benefits. You must notify your employer within five (5) days of your accident. Should your employer choose to accept any potential liability for your injury, your employer, your employer’s insurance carrier, or a third party administrator should complete a WC Form 2 9/2006 form , also known as the First Report of Injury Form.If you employer declines to accept any liability or pursue your claim on your behalf, you may call the Workers’ Compensation Division to speak with an Examiner about your options. You are also entitled to obtain an attorney to handle your claim, should you seek to pursue the claim in court.Be prompt in reporting your injury and communicating with your employer about filing a claim. You have two years from the date of your accident to file a verified complaint in the courts. Otherwise, you may lose your right to claim benefits for your injury.
  2. Should my employer have workers compensation insurance? How do I know if I am covered?Under Alabama Workers’ Compensation law, if your employer employs more than four employees, full or part-time, your employer is required to have workers’ compensation insurance coverage.If your employer has coverage, you are guaranteed a “benefit certain” in the event of an on-the-job injury or occupational disease. However because your employer is guaranteed an “exclusive remedy” under provisions of law, it means you are limited to benefits required by law and therefore, your employer’s liability is also limited.
  3. What are the conditions that enable me or prevent me from claiming benefits under my state’s law?The following conditions must exist in order for you to be entitled to workers compensation benefits under state law:
    1. Employee must work for an employer who is covered by law. Generally the law covers employers of five or more employees.
    2. The injury must result from an accident, an unexpected or unforeseen event happening suddenly or violently with or without human fault that causes injury to the human body.
    3. The accident must be related to your employment. The accident must occur within the period of your employment, at a place you may reasonably expected to be within the scope of your employment, and while engaged in or fulfilling a duty of your employment.
    4. Prompt and informative notice of the accident and the injury should be given to your employer.

    Certain circumstances may also prevent you from claiming benefits under state law. They include:

    1. The accident was caused by your willful misconduct.
    2. The accident was caused by the act of a third person or fellow employee for personal reasons, unrelated to your employment.
    3. You intended to bring about the injury or death to yourself or to another.
    4. You were intoxicated or under the influence of illegal drugs.
    5. You failed or refused to use proper safety mechanisms provided by your employer.
    6. You failed to or refused to perform a statutory duty.
    7. You breached a reasonable rule or regulation of your employer that you knew about.
  4. What benefits might I be eligible to receive?Generally, there is a three-day waiting period before your disability or benefits pay will begin. Your disability period starts on the fourth day you are out of work. Your benefits should be paid within thirty days of when it is due. (Code of Alabama, 1975 §25-5-51).The types of benefits you may be eligible for will depend on the success of your claim and the nature of the injury you have suffered. Under Alabama law, most benefits qualify as compensatory benefits, medical benefits, or death benefits.Compensatory benefits compensate you for wages lost as a result of occupational injury or disease. They are organized into four categories: temporary partial, temporary total, permanent partial, and permanent total.In most cases for injuries, you would multiply your average weekly earnings for the year prior to your injury by two-third (66.67%). You can refer to the State’s Average Weekly Wage chart to calculate an estimate of your benefits.Medical benefits will include the costs of any reasonably necessary treatments for your injury. This will include related medical treatment, medicine, surgeries, supplies, artificial members, and other medical supplies.In the event of death, your benefits will be distributed in different ways depending on whether you have dependents. If at death you have no dependents, your employer will pay $7,500 to your estate within sixty days of your death. If you claim one dependent, your benefits will be calculated based on your average weekly earnings prior to your death and multiplied by fifty percent (50%). If you claim two or more dependent, you average weekly earnings will be multiplied by two-thirds (66.67%).Your benefits, whether resulting in injury or at death, cannot be less than the minimum compensation in effect at the time of your injury. Also, you claim will be subject to a limited time period. Depending on the type of claim, different time periods will apply. See here to learn more.
  5. How much time do I have to file my claim? What are the stages of the claims process? What should I expect?You have two (2) years from the time of your injury to file your claim. However, failing to report your injury promptly to your employer may cause you to forfeit your entitlement to certain benefits. You should aim to report your injury to employer within five (5) days of your injury and no compensation will be payable if written notice is not provided within ninety (90) days.After you notify your employer and your employer files the First Report of Injury, your employer will work with his insurance provider (if your employer meets the criteria for mandatory coverage, or if your employer participates in an insurance coverage plan) or the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Division to determine if you are capable of receiving any benefits for your injury.Your settlement of benefits should be calculated based on the formulas related to the category of benefits your injury qualifies you under; this may be medical benefits, compensatory benefits, or death benefits. If your settlement is for less than the authorized amount, the Alabama Circuit Court in the county with the appropriate jurisdiction will need to approve it.
  6. If I am not happy with the determination, how do I appeal?You, your employer, or your beneficiaries have a right to settle workers’ compensation claims. If a settlement is not reached, either party may file suit in the Alabama Circuit Court in the county with the appropriate jurisdiction. A judge will handle most issues that arise in court; however you may request a jury to try issues of willful misconduct by your employer.If your injury occurred after January 1, 1993, an ombudsman may mediate your claim and conduct benefit review conferences on your behalf. You are not required to participate in the Ombudsman Program; however, they are highly recommended.

 


Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development Workers' Compensation?

  1. I had an accident at work. How do I file a workers compensation claim in my state?If you are injured while at work, seek first aid or medical care immediately as needed from any physician of your choosing. Also, notify your supervisor, employer, or office about the injury as soon as possible. You must provide notice in writing of your injury or work-related illness within thirty days. You can use the Report of Occupational Injury or Illness form (form 07-6101) to provide written notice of your injury. Complete your part of the form and provide your employer with all copies. After your employer fills out the form, your employer should provide you with the yellow copy.Make sure to keep detailed records on hand while pursuing your claim. This will include having proper documentation of your earnings and earnings statements (W-2), information about your employer (address, name of supervisor, co-workers who may have seen your accident), information about your employer’s insurance provider, and all relevant medical records related to the treatment of your injury.
  2. Should my employer have workers compensation insurance? How do I know if I am covered?You employer should have workers compensation insurance and should post information related to the insurance coverage plan your employer participates in or self-insurance plan in three different places at your place of employment that are readily accessible. If your employer does not have insurance or refuses to provide you with information about the insurance program, contact the Division’s Special Investigations Unit.If your employer agrees to pay benefits, get the agreement in writing. If your employer refuses, file a workers’ compensation claim against your employer. This claim will be forwarded to the Workers’ Compensation Benefit Guaranty Fund, which works to provide compensation to employees whose employers were uninsured at the time of their injury. The fund will pay for your benefits and seek recovery from your employer so long as the employer is found responsible for your benefits and fails to pay.Typically, the insurance provider will examine the circumstances surrounding your injury, review information regarding your employment history at the place of work where you were injured and will calculate your weekly disability compensation rate. The insurer must make a decision to either pay you benefits or deny you benefits within twenty-one (21) days of learning of your injury.
  3. What are the conditions that enable me or prevent me from claiming benefits under my state’s law?Generally, compensation is payable only to those injuries which arise out of and occur during the course of your employment. Your benefits are not payable if the injury 1) was proximately caused by your willful intent to injure or kill any person or 2) proximately caused due to you being intoxicated or under the influence of illegal drugs.
  4. What benefits might I be eligible to receive?There are four types of compensatory benefits you may be qualified to receive: disability and impairment benefits, death benefits, medical benefits, and reemployment benefits.There are three kinds of disability benefits and one kind of impairment benefit: temporary total disability benefits, temporary partial disability benefits, permanent partial impairment benefits, and permanent total disability benefits.In the event of a work related death, the insurer will pay up to $10,000 for your funeral expenses and $5,000 to your spouse/dependents. Also, your dependents will be paid weekly.Your employer is required to pay medical benefits up to two years following your injury, unless otherwise ordered. Medical expenses will be reviewed and held to the standard of what is necessary, customary, and reasonable. These benefits will typically cover doctor and nurses fees, prescribed medicines, treatment costs, medical supplies and appliances, and reasonable transportation costs.Re-employment benefits are assessed on an individual case basis, depending on whether you have not been able to return to work for a consecutive number of days. The reemployment benefits office will work with you to determine what kinds of assistance you need depending on the number of consecutive days you have been absent from your work as a result of your injury.If your claim results in some form of compensatory benefit, you should expect to receive a check every two weeks. The amount of money you will be entitled to receive will depend on your gross weekly earnings, which is calculated based on a number of different factors. You can expect to receive about eighty percent (80%) of your gross spendable weekly wages, which are your gross weekly earnings minus any pay roll deductions. You may refer to the different rate tables to get an idea of what you may expect to be paid.Be aware that your compensation will be confined within certain maximum and minimum limits. Your insurer may not pay you in excess of 120% of your weekly compensation rate and less than twenty-two percent (22%) of your maximum weekly compensation rate.
  5. How much time do I have to file my claim? What are the stages of the claims process? What should I expect?You must report your injury in writing to your employer or the Workers’ Compensation Division within thirty (30) days of your injury. Otherwise, your benefits may be barred unless the Division excuses you for failing to adhere to the time limit.If your insurer denies you benefits, you must file a Workers’ Compensation Claim within two years of the date you learned about your disability and its connection to your place of work.The claims process will typically involve notifying your employer of your injury, working with your employer’s insurance provider to determine whether your injury qualifies you for compensatory benefits, and depending on the outcome of the determination (whether your insurance has chosen to award to deny you benefits), you may choose to appeal to the Division by filings a Workers’ Compensation Claim.
  6. If I am not happy with the determination, how do I appeal?If your insurer denies you the right to benefits, you must request a hearing with the Alaska Division of Workers Compensation Board within two years of the denial. This process begins with filing a written claim to the Board called a Workers Compensation Claim and begins a formal action against your employer’s insurer for benefits. You may also file a claim if the insurer voluntarily began paying and then terminated disability payments.You may choose to appoint counsel at any point in the process, from the time you are first injured and throughout the time you are entitled to disability pay.The Adjudications Section of the Alaska Division of Workers’ Compensation provides a mediation program for disputed claims that is accessible to all parties involved in a specific claim to succeed in issue resolution. Should any legal disputes or claims continue to be unresolved, a three-member panel of the Adjudication Section is composed to help resolve any issues. This panel works to enforce compliance with the state’s Workers’ Compensation Act, insure proper benefits are provided, and that employers provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage to employees.


Industrial Commission of Arizona?

  1. I had an accident at work. How do I file a workers compensation claim in my state?If you are injured at work, it is your job to be as prompt as possible in reporting your injury to your supervisor or employer. If your injury or illness is work-related, you are likely to receive some form of compensation. Reporting your injury as soon as possible will help you to avoid any possible delays or denials of any possible benefits.When you are treated for your injury, make sure to notify the doctor or physician that you were injured at the job. This should prompt your doctor to give you a pink form entitled “Worker’s and Physician’s Report of Injury.” Filling out and signing this form commences your application for Workers’ Compensation benefits. Your treating physician sends the form to the Industrial Commission (ICA), a copy to your employer, and a copy to the insurance company that provides workers compensation coverage to your employer.If you do not fill out the pink form, you may also fill out another form, Worker’s Report of Injury that will also begin a workers’ compensation claim. It is sent to the ICA upon request.You must have one of these forms with your signature (or the signature of a legally authorized representative) sent to the ICA to officially file your claim. Without one of these forms, your insurance carrier is not legally required to proceed with your request for injury-related benefits. You may contact the ICA to see if your form(s) have been received.Again, it is important to file your claim as promptly as possible. You must file your claim within one year of the date of your injury. You are responsible for ensuring your claim is filed.
  2. Should my employer have workers compensation insurance? How do I know if I am covered?Once you file your claim with the Industrial Commission, your employer’s insurance company is notified that your have filed a claim. The insurance company will then make a determination of whether to accept or deny your claims. The insurance company must make a decision within twenty-one (21) days of receiving notice of your claim filing from ICA. If the insurance company denies your claim, which you should expect to receive notice of, you have ninety (90) days to protest the determination.The Industrial Commission entitles certain large employers to act as their own insurance company. These employers are classified as self-insured employers. Most employers who qualify as self-insured will notify their employees of their status as a self-insured company. You should be observant of what kinds of information your employer provides you about the employer’s insurance coverage; your employer is required to tell you the name of their insurance company or what kind of coverage the employer provides for employees.If your employer is not insured, you may file a lawsuit against your employer Superior Court or you can file a workers’ compensation benefits claim with the Industrial Commission. The Industrial Commission has set up a Super Fund to pay medical and compensation benefits to workers whose employers do not have insurance coverage at the time of their injury. The Industrial Commission’s Special Fund Division will take on your claim and investigate the nature of your injury and how it was related to the scope of your employment. If your employer is found to have had no insurance coverage at the time of your injury, your employer has violated state laws and may be subject to liability.
  3. What are the conditions that enable me or prevent me from claiming benefits under my state’s law?In Arizona, Workers’ Compensation is a no fault system in which injured workers receive medical and compensation benefits no matter who causes the job-related accident. So long as eligibility requirements are met, a worker suffering from a work-related injury or illness may receive medical benefits, temporary or permanent compensation, and job re-training.
  4. What benefits might I be eligible to receive?There are two types of claims that can be filed under Arizona Workers’ Compensation laws: medical only claims and time loss claims.Medical only claims are the benefits paid by your employer’s insurance company for your medical expenses related to treatment for your injury. Medical only claims do not cover compensation benefits related to lost wages. If the insurance provider chooses to accept your claim, the insurance company will continue to pay your medical bills until a doctor states you are no longer in need of treatment. If you willingly choose to stop treatment for your work-related injury, the insurance company may close your claim without notice from the doctor. If your claim is accepted, you are not responsible for paying any of the medical expenses for your treatment. However, you must be aware that the insurance provider can subject you to periodic examination to check on the status of your treatment and the state of your recovery. Such examinations may serve as a basis for updating or changing your claim status.Time lost claims are benefits for compensation of lost wages if you are unable to work for more than seven calendar days (these do not have to be calculated consecutively, but are considered in the aggregate). You are entitled to lost wages for all days of work missed after the seventh day. The first seven (7) days are not paid unless you are missing from work for fourteen days. Your compensation is paid at two-thirds (66.67%) of your average monthly wage. This is determined by reviewing your monthly earning for the thirty days prior to your injury. Arizona law has established a maximum monthly wage figure that may not be exceeded ($3,920.75). You are only entitled to time lost compensation up to $3,920.75, regardless of whether you earned more than that figure in the thirty (30) days prior to your injury.The insurance company will provide you with a notice to inform you that your time lost claim has been accepted. This will include your temporary compensation check and a form detailing how your wage was calculated. This calculated is subject to review by the ICA; if it is not calculated correctly, the ICA can disapprove it and mandate a new, correct wage figure.Temporary compensation claims are typically paid once every two weeks until the insurance provider receives notice from your doctor that you are no longer in need of treatment. Permanent compensation, for permanent injuries, is handled differently. Your doctor must determine the percentage of your impairment, which is then categorized as being either a scheduled or an unscheduled permanent injury. Scheduled permanent injuries are to a certain body part, such as an eye, hand, arm, foot, etc. All other permanent injuries that do not fit a scheduled injury description are considered unscheduled (these are often occupational diseases). To learn more about how these injuries are compensated and how payments are calculated, visit this page.
  5. How much time do I have to file my claim? What are the stages of the claims process? What should I expect?Two divisions within the Arizona Industrial Commission handle the claims process, by monitoring activities of insurance carriers and deciding disputes: the Claims Division and the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Division.The Claims Division is responsible for regulating the insurance carriers and self-insured employers that process claims filed by injured workers. The Claims Division works to guarantee workers’ compensation claims are handled in accordance with state laws. Typically, the Claims Division will receive claims from physicians working with injured workers or the injured workers themselves, and then works with the insurance carrier or self-insured employer to process the claim. At this point, the claim is transferred to the insurance carrier or self-insured employer.The ALJ Division resolves the legal disputes involved with workers’ compensation cases. The Hearing Division of the ALJ receives referrals from the Claims Division for hearing requests from parties involved in a workers’ compensation claim.
  6. If I am not happy with the determination, how do I appeal?If you are not happy with the determination of your employer’s insurance provider in regards to your claim, you have ninety (90) days from the time you receive notice of the determination to file a request for a hearing with the Industrial Commission. You must do this in the form of a letter or via the following form. You or your legally authorized representative must sign your request for a hearing.The Industrial Commission will send you a notice of when a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge will be set.Failing to file a request for a hearing within the ninety (90) day period will render the decision of your employer’s insurance provider final.


Arkansas Department of Workforce Services?

  1. I had an accident at work. How do I file a workers compensation claim in my state?If you are injured at work, immediately notify your employer about the details of your injury. It is preferable to do this in writing. Be as prompt as possible and report injuries regardless of the severity. Sometimes minor injuries can lead to life-threatening infections or can develop into more severe conditions.
  2. Should my employer have workers compensation insurance? How do I know if I am covered?Workers’ Compensation in Arkansas is a no-fault compensation system that works to guarantee and benefit workers injured on the job. If you are unable to work because of a work-related injury, your employer’s workers compensation coverage policy takes care of your medical expenses and lost-wages until you can go back to work. Workers’ Compensation Law, with the exception of the following, protects almost all Arkansans: businesses where there are two (2) or fewer employees; railroad and maritime employees; agricultural-farm labor employees; domestic help; non-profit employment; religious/charitable/ or relief organization; and individuals covered by federal law.To learn whether your employer has workers’ compensation coverage, look for a notice or poster displayed at your place of work. If you do not find any sort of posting, ask your employer or contact the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission.Workers’ compensation covers accidental injuries and occupational diseases that arise out of the course of employment. They are subject to specific incident, time, and place requirements. The injury must be identifiable based on the latter three factors attributable to the course of your employment. There are three exceptions to these requirements: 1) rapid, repetitive motion injuries; 2) gradual on-set back injuries; 3) hearing loss. These three exceptions are only coverable when they are found to be the major cause of the condition (major cause is defined as more than fifty percent (50%) of the cause).
  3. What are the conditions that enable me or prevent me from claiming benefits under my state’s law?To receive benefits, you must report your injury to your employer and/or supervisor immediately. You should provide the employer with written notice of your injury describing the time, place, and nature of the injury. Benefits are automatic, but contingent upon your promptness in reporting.
  4. What benefits might I be eligible to receive?Arkansas Workers’ Compensation law provides three kinds of benefits:
    • Medical Care Benefits: This is coverage for all reasonably necessary services and treatment including doctor bills, medication, hospital costs, lab tests, X-rays, and crutches. Your employer’s insurance provider pays these costs directly.
    • Rehabilitation Services: These are benefits paying the expense of vocational rehabilitation and certain kinds of physical therapy.
    • Cash Payment: Typically, cash payments are made in the form of temporary total disability benefits. These payments compensate you for wages lost while you are recovering from your injury. Depending on your recovery progress, you may be entitled to permanent partial disability benefits (if your injury results in permanent impairment) or wage loss (if your injury affects your pre-injury wages). If your injury results in death, these payments may be paid to your surviving dependents.

    Temporary total disability cash payments are calculated at 66.66% of your average weekly wage and are paid every two weeks. This is capped at a maximum amount set by state law.

    If you are totally or permanently disabled as a result of your work-related injury, you are entitled to benefits for life.

  5. How much time do I have to file my claim? What are the stages of the claims process? What should I expect?Workers compensation is an automatic process in Arkansas. If discrepancies occur or you feel unsettled with the benefits you are receiving, you may contact the Workers Compensation Commission Office and speak with a staff member who is trained to discuss your rights and benefits under the law. They can organize preliminary conferences where you and your employer may discuss any of the issues arising from your compensation scheme. Legal Advisors can help to facilitate some of the mediation services at the preliminary conference.If you remained unsettled with advice of staff representatives at the Workers’ Compensation Commission Office or with the result of a preliminary conference, you may decide to file a Form C which initiates a Claim for Compensation.You must file a Claim for Compensation within two years of your injury or within one year of your last compensation payment. The claim is assigned to an Administrative Law Judge of the Commission who will determine whether further proceedings are required in the matter.
  6. If I am not happy with the determination, how do I appeal?You may file a Full Commission appeal by requesting an appeal in writing. You must include your name and the claim number issued with your Claim of Compensation. You have thirty days to file an appeal from the time you receive a final order from the Administrative Law Judge of the Commission.If you remain unsatisfied with the determination after appeal, you may file another appeal with the Arkansas Court of Appeals. This appeal will be subject to the Court of Appeals rules and court fees.


California Division of Workers' Compensation

  1. I had an accident at work. How do I file a workers compensation claim in my state?If you are injured at work, you must first report the injury to your employer by telling your supervisor as soon as possible. This includes recent injuries and injuries/illnesses that have developed over time as a result of your job. It is important you notify your employer about your injuries promptly, aiming to inform your employer within thirty (30) days. Failing to do so may cause problems or delays in the claims process.Next, seek emergency treatment if necessary. Your employer may specify a physician or care center where you should seek treatment. Notify the physician that this is a job-related injury or illness.It is also important to fill out a claim form, DWC form 1, and give it to your employer once you have completed it. Your employer must give or mail you a claim form within one working day after learning about your injury/illness. If your employer does not, you may visit the forms page of the California Department of Industrial Relations Agency Division of Workers’ Compensation site to download one. You should fill out this form within one year of your injury; otherwise, you may not be able to receive benefits.
  2. Should my employer have workers compensation insurance? How do I know if I am covered?In California, all employers are required to either purchase a workers’ compensation insurance policy from a licensed insurer, authorized to write policies in California, or become self-insured. The Division of Workers’ Compensation does not provide insurance to employers and does not maintain information about employers and their insurance providers. If you are uncertain about the insurance program available at your place of employment, you may contact the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau.
  3. What are the conditions that enable me or prevent me from claiming benefits under my state’s law?The conditions that will either enable you or prevent you from receiving benefits under California’s workers’ compensation system will depend on the nature of your claim. A more detailed look into temporary disability benefits and permanent disability benefits through the respective links can provide you with more information about what to expect
  4. What benefits might I be eligible to receive?In California, six basic benefits are provided through workers’ compensation insurance:
    • Medical Care
    • Temporary disability benefits
    • Permanent disability benefits
    • Supplemental job displacement benefits
    • Vocational rehabilitation
    • Death benefits

    The kinds of benefits you are capable of receiving and how they are to be calculated will depend on the nature of your claim. Some other benefits may be available outside of your employer’s insurance program, including:

    • Benefits paid by state and federal governments,
    • Disability Insurance, unemployment insurance, and Social Security Disability Insurance.
    • Benefits offered by employers and unions
    • Payments if your injury was caused by someone other than your employer
  5. How much time do I have to file my claim? What are the stages of the claims process? What should I expect?Filling out a DWC 1 Form initiates the claim process. Once this begins, you, your employer, and a claims administrator become involved with your injury claim to determine whether you are entitled to receive any benefits. A claims administrator is assigned to your place of work. Usually, his/her name will be posted at your workplace in the same area where other workplace information is posted.Next, Utilization Review (UR) will determine if medical treatment is necessary. A UR program determines whether the medical treatment outlined by your treating physician should be approved. The California’s Medical Treatment Utilization Schedule outlines medical treatment for work-related injuries and illnesses, specifying the treatments, efficacy, duration and extent of treatments that are recommended for injured workers.If you and/or the claims administrator disagree over the results and conclusions made by the treating physician, you may expect to be examined by a second doctor, an Agreed Medical Evaluator (AME) or Qualified Medical Evaluator (QME) during the claim process. You may decide to request a QME examination if:
    • Your claim is delayed or denied and you need a medical exam to see if your claim is payable
    • You need to know if you are permanently disabled or you will need further medical treatment
    • You disagree with what your doctor says about your condition
    • You disagree with the finding of the utilization review.
    • You, your employer, or your attorney (should you seek one) may request a QME examination.
  6. If I am not happy with the determination, how do I appeal?If you disagree with the claim’s administrator’s decision, you must act within specific timelines in order to maintain your rights. You must appeal a decision in writing within twenty (20) days of receiving it. Your claims administrator will most likely file a QME panel request to initiate a QME review. If the claims administrator continues to deny your claim after the QME process, you will need to see a worker’s compensation judge to resolve the disagreement. This can be accomplished by filing a declaration of readiness to proceed with an expedited hearing before a judge. If you do not already have an existing case open, you will need to file an application for an adjudication claim; this opens a case for you. It is advised that you work with a lawyer familiar with workers compensation law to pursue an appeal, if you are not working with one already, as it is a specialized field of law with short time deadlines which, if missed, may jeopardize your ability to receive compensation.


Colorado Department of Labor & Employment Division of Workers' Compensation

  1. I had an accident at work. How do I file a workers compensation claim in my state?If you suffer a life or limb threatening injury while at work (life or limb threatening injury is defined as an injury that you believe threatens a portion of your body or your life in such a way that immediate medical care is needed to prevent death or serious damage.), first seek the appropriate medical attention, if necessary, and then notify your supervisor. You must notify your supervisor in writing.You must notify your supervisor in writing of your injury, regardless of how severe your injury, within four (4) working days. You may still file a claim for benefits if you are late, however failing to report your injury may subject you to lost wages for each day you are late.If your employer has chosen a medical provider for work-related injuries before or at the time of your injury, you are required to use that medical care provider. If you ignore the choice of your employer, you may lose benefits coverage. However, if your employer has not specified a medical provider for you to receive care, you may seek your own medical care provider.An insurance provider may choose to accept or to deny your claim. If your claim is accepted, the insurance company will begin to pay for your authorized medical expenses and/or compensation benefits. If your claim is denied, however, you may contact your insurance provider to learn more about how the decision was reached.After you notify your employer, your employer should file a report of the injury with the insurance provider within ten days of your injury.
  2. Should my employer have workers compensation insurance? How do I know if I am covered?In Colorado, the workers’ compensation system is structured around employers providing their employees with insurance coverage should an employee get injured while on the job or develop occupational diseases. Employers with one or more full or part time employees are required to provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage to their employees. Those employers who do not provide insurance coverage may be subject to certain liabilities enforced by the Division of Workers’ Compensation.Most employees, both full and part-time, are covered under workers’ compensation insurance programs. However, certain occupations and/or individuals are not awarded mandatory coverage under the Colorado Workers’ Compensation Act. This list includes, but is not limited to, the following:
    • Casual maintenance or repair work performed for a business for under $2,000/calendar year.
    • Domestic work, maintenance or repaid work for private homeowners that is not done full time.
    • Licensed real estate agents and brokers working on commission-based pay.
    • Independent contractors working for-hire transportation jobs.
    • Drivers under lease agreements with common/contract carriers.
    • Volunteer ski-operators.
    • Persons who provide home services as a part of residential supports and services.
    • Federal employees.
    • Railroad employees.
    • Independent contractors.
  3. What are the conditions that enable me or prevent me from claiming benefits under my state’s law?An insurance provider may choose to deny your claim for a host of reasons; however, this usually results from the insurance provider’s belief that your injury was not work-related or there is not enough information to make an informed determination that you are eligible for benefits.
  4. What benefits might I be eligible to receive?Depending on the nature of your injury and the determination of your employer’s insurance provider, you may qualify for one of the following kinds of benefits: medical benefits, compensation benefits (temporary disability or permanent impairment), or fatality benefits.Medical benefits:Workers’ compensation insurance pays for all reasonable and necessary medical expenses as authorized by the doctor designated to treat you for your injury. This should include the costs of all reasonable and necessary supplies, prescription, and any transportation expenses incurred to receive scheduled treatments.Compensation benefits:Temporary disability benefits- If you miss more than three work days/shifts due to a work-related injury or illness, you will be eligible to receive compensation benefits for lost wages. Your lost wages are calculated on your fourth day absent from work. You will only recoup the first three days pay if you are subsequently absent from work for more than two weeks as a result of the injury or illness. The insurance provider will pay you temporary disability benefits once every two week throughout the time you are unable to work. The amount you should expect to receive will be two-thirds of your average weekly wage up to a maximum amount permitted by law on the date of your injury. This considers your gross wages or salary, commissions, overtime, tips, per diem, reasonable board, value of rent, housing, and lodging, and employee’s costs of continuing the insurance plan.Permanent impairment- A doctor must determine whether your injury is considered a permanent impairment. If the insurance company is in agreement with the doctor’s determination, they will file a Final Admission of Liability and you will receive weekly benefits for a set period of time to compensate you for your disability. This amount will depend on the date of your injury and the length of time you are entitled to these benefits as mandated by law. Permanent impairment is categorized as one of the following:
    • Scheduled impairment: Loss of function to toes, feet, legs, fingers, hands, arms, teeth, vision or hearing.
    • Whole Person Impairment: Loss of function to body parts such as the spine, lungs, or the brain.
    • Permanent Total Disability: Inability to earn any wages.

    The Final Admission of Liability is the insurance company’s statement that they owe you a certain amount of money and the plan they which to adhere to in paying you the money owed. The insurance will usually proceed with a Final Admission of Liability when the employee’s doctor makes the determination that the employee will not fully recover from the injury. The doctor will also classify the degree of permanent impairment based on the level of function you are able to maintain post-injury.

    The Colorado Division of Workers’ Compensation also provides a benefits calculator to help give you an idea of the benefits you may be entitled to throughout the process. You can get an estimate of your benefits here.

  5. How much time do I have to file my claim? What are the stages of the claims process? What should I expect?Once you have notified your employer of your injury in writing (within four (4) working days of your injury) and your employer has filed a report of your injury with the insurance provider (within ten (10) days of your injury), your workers’ compensation claim has commenced.If your injury results in your absence from work for more than three days/shifts or causes permanent impairment or death, the insurance carrier must review your injury report and notify you of their decision to pay you (or your dependents) benefits within twenty (20) days. If you have not missed more than three (3) days/shifts of work, your insurance carrier is not required to provide you with written notice. Instead, you may contact your employer’s insurance provider to receive updates on the status of your claim.
  6. If I am not happy with the determination, how do I appeal?If the workers’ compensation insurance provider chooses to deny your claim, you may contact the insurance provider to discuss how this decision was reached. If you remain unhappy with the determination, you may request a formal hearing to settle any disputed issues. You may also choose to engage in a pre-hearing conference, or settlement conference, to help you reach an agreement. These are informal hearings led by administrative law judges that can help the parties to discuss issues, concerns, or even possible resolutions.A formal hearing involves an administrative judge making decisions on the benefits applicable and other relevant issues at hand. This is very similar to a trial, where parties may present a case including evidence and sworn testimony from witnesses.To request a formal hearing, you must complete and file an Application for Hearing and send a copy to your employer’s insurance company. Most hearing will be scheduled within 80-100 days of the filing. However, you may qualify for an expedited hearing, which will be scheduled within forty-five (45) days.If you are not satisfied with the decision of the administrative judge at the formal hearing, you may file an appeal. In order to appeal, you must file a Petition to Review within twenty (20) days the judge’s decision and order is mailed to you. The appeals process is handled by the Industrial Claims Panel; the panel reviews your case and the administrative law judge’s order to help arrive at a decision. If this decision does not satisfy your dispute, you may appeal to the Colorado Court of Appeals within twenty (20) days of receiving the decision from the panel.This process can become complicated. You are not required to hire an attorney, however it may be in your best interest to hire one or at least consult with one to determine the best course of action for your case.


State of Connecticut Workers' Compensation Commission

  1. I had an accident at work. How do I file a workers compensation claim in my state?All employees, whether part-time or full-time, are covered under the Connecticut workers’ compensation act starting the first day of employment. The Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Commission outlines three steps to follow once you have suffered an injury or realize you are suffering from an occupational disease or illness:
    • Report your injury to your employer immediately
    • File a 30c form
    • Ask your employer for information about your employer’s insurance provider.

    It is very important to notify your employer about your injury. Although you may do this orally, it is essential that you provide written notice to your employer about your injury. You can provide official written notice by completing the 30c form. Once completed, the 30c should be sent via certified mail to the employer and the state Workers’ Compensation Commission.

    You have one (1) year from the time of your injury and three (3) years from the first manifestation of symptoms related to an occupational disease to report your injury. Failing to do so may prevent you from filing a workers’ compensation claim and/or receiving potential benefits related to your injury.

  2. Should my employer have workers compensation insurance? How do I know if I am covered?All employers with one or more employees are required by law to have workers’ compensation insurance. When you are injured at work, your employer must provide you with information about their insurance provider. Your employer must also complete a First Report of Injury form to notify the insurance provider about the injury. The insurer determines the compensability of your claim. The insurance provider is given twenty-eight (28) days to make this determination-either to begin payments or to deny coverage for the claim. If the insurance provider fails to make a decision or properly notify you of that determination within twenty- eight (28) days, the insurance provider loses its ability to contest and accepts responsibility for your claim (otherwise the insurance provider has one year to contest from the determination).The Voluntary Agreement is a statement issued by the insurance provider when a claimant’s injury persist more than three (3) working days and the insurance provider has yet to make a determination about whether they will accept responsibility for the claim. This Voluntary Agreement is a statement of acceptance that must be signed by the claimant, the employer, and the insurance company and should be approved by the Workers’ Compensation Commission.
  3. What are the conditions that enable me or prevent me from claiming benefits under my state’s law?Your benefits are largely contingent upon the promptness and thoroughness in which you file your claim. Make sure you contact your employer about any injuries or symptoms you have relating to your job and your workplace as soon as possible. Also, make sure to file the appropriate paper work and notify or send the documents to your employer, your employer’s insurance provider, and/or the Workers’ Compensation Commission if need be.
  4. What benefits might I be eligible to receive?Workers’ compensation is an exclusive remedy of wage replacement benefits and medical treatments related to work related injuries and diseases. Under Connecticut workers’ compensation law, an injured employee is capable of receiving benefits in regards to medical treatment, the degree of disability as a result of the injury, and job re-training.
    • Medical Benefits: In most scenarios, the employer will have a pre-designated medical facility for you to receive treatments or physical evaluation should you be injured or suffer from an occupational disease as a result of your employment. After an initial medical evaluation, you may, in certain cased, designate your own physician to continue your treatment or rehabilitation.
    • Benefits Relating to Degree of Injury: Wage replacement benefits are determined by the degree of disability caused by your injury, and the extent to which it prevents you from continuing or fulfilling work-related responsibilities. Depending on the degree of your injury, you may be qualified for temporary total disability benefits, temporary partial disability benefits, or permanent partial disability benefits.
    • Temporary Total Disability: If you are totally disabled due to a work related injury or illness, you be entitled to wage replacement benefits. This calculation is usually based on a 75 percent benefit rate of your average weekly wages, after taxes and social security. Your average wages are based on what you have previously earned throughout a fifty-two (52) week period prior to your injury.
    • Temporary Partial Disability: You are entitled to these benefits typically when you are capable of performing some work, but not as much work as you were able to prior to the injury or illness. This is calculated as 75 percent of the difference between the amount you are currently earning and what you would have earned were you not injured.
    • Permanent Partial Disability: these benefits are calculated based on the amount of disability or disfigurement caused to a specific part of your body.
    • Relapse or Recurrence Benefits: Depending on the nature and extent of your injury, you may be entitled to benefits for the probability of relapse or recurrence related to symptoms, pain, or future medical treatment.
    • Discretionary Benefits: You may request an informal hearing with the Workers’ Compensation Commission to evaluate whether you are entitled to additional benefits in regards to your claim. This determination is made on a case-by-case basis and is very circumstantial.
    • Job Re-Benefits: These are benefits relating to vocational rehabilitation and job re-training to help you get back into the work force after dealing with your injury.
  5. How much time do I have to file my claim? What are the stages of the claims process? What should I expect?It is very important that you notify your employer of your injury as soon as possible. It is the best way to insure that you will have the opportunity and the most access to potential benefits relating to your injury. You will have one (1) year from the time of your injury and three years from your first signs of symptoms related to an occupational disease or illness to file your claim with the Workers’ Compensation Commission.The Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Commission has created an informational chart outlining the stages of the claims process.
  6. If I am not happy with the determination, how do I appeal?Cases that are undisputed may seek resolution through the appeals process. These are claims that carry some level of difference in opinion, disagreement, or misunderstanding among the claimant, employer or insurance provider. You or your employer may request an informal hearing to resolve a variety of issues. Informal hearings are held at the Workers’ Compensation Commission office in the respective district that you reside in and presided over by a Workers’ Compensation Commissioner. The purpose of these hearings is to resolve certain disputes arising from your claim or to determine whether additional benefits can be awarded. Before an informal hearing may be requested, you must attempt to resolve the dispute through your own efforts.Disputes arising from your claim may also be resolved through a formal hearings process. These resemble formal legal proceedings, where the Workers’ Compensation Commissioner acts as a judge and you and your employer are permitted to present a case, with evidence, witnesses, etc. Disputes submitted to a formal hearings process are subject to appeal should the Workers’ Compensation Commissioner make a determination on the claim. These determinations may be appealed to the Compensation Review Board, which is also reviewable by the state appellate and State Supreme Court.You are entitled to the representation of an attorney throughout the claims process.


State of Delaware Office of Workers' Compensation

  1. I had an accident at work. How do I file a workers compensation claim in my state?If you are injured on the job, you must immediately notify your employer in writing of the injury and request medical attention. Without providing notice to your employer or accepting medical attention for your injury, you may lose your right to compensation and/or additional benefits.Your employer should file a First Report of Occupational Injury or Disease within ten (10) days to the Office of Workers’ Compensation and to their insurance provider. This form must be completed no matter how minor the injury. When your employer files this form, it is not an admission of liability; however, your employer may be fined for failing to file this form. From the time of the accident, your employer should provide all necessary medical, surgical and hospital treatment from the time of your accident.
  2. Should my employer have workers compensation insurance? How do I know if I am covered?Employers with one or more employees are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. However, farm workers are exempt from this requirement.Your employer or your employers insurance provider pays your benefits under Delaware law. If your employer refuses to compensate you for injuries or diseases contracted while you are on the job, you have two (2) years from the date of your accident to file a petition with the Office of Workers’ Compensation. It is your decision whether or not you will require the assistance of an attorney to file a petition; however, a workers’ compensation specialist is available to assist you in filing a petition and inform you of the hearing process should your claim proceed. Your employer will be expected to be represented by an attorney.
  3. What are the conditions that enable me or prevent me from claiming benefits under my state’s law?Under the Delaware workers’ compensation system, benefits are available to individuals who are injured or who contract an occupational disease while on the job. The Delaware legislature has designed the system to provide benefits that include medical treatment, temporary disability payments, compensation for permanent injury and/or disability, and benefits that may be paid to an individual’s survivors in the event of a workplace death.Under Delaware law (DE Code, Title 19), your ability to receive benefits is limited to situations or circumstances where personal injury is sustained by accident or arising out of and in the course of the employment. If you are injured while engaged in work-related tasks, whether at your place of work or while pursuing your employer’s business elsewhere as a part of your work duties, you will be able to file a workers compensation claim with better opportunities to receive benefits. However, one situation, for example, that would not qualify you to receive benefits under this scheme is if a fellow co-worker who is motivated by personal reasons injures you.
  4. What benefits might I be eligible to receive?Under Delaware Workers’ Compensation system, you are entitled to a range of benefits from medical benefits to death benefits payable to your survivors.
    • Medical Benefits: Your employer or your employer’s insurance provider will pay for all necessary medical treatment for your injury or occupational disease. Delaware has established the Health Care Payment System for medical treatments. The system provides a fee schedule for all charges related to medical services provided and/or in compliance with Section 2322 of Title 19 of the Delaware Code.
    • Temporary Total Disability Benefits: When your injury results in you missing work for more than three days, you are entitled to compensation/wage-replacement benefits on the fourth (4th) day. If your injury causes you to miss work for seven days, you may receive compensation for the first three (3) days of missed work. This compensation is calculated based on a rate of two-thirds (66.67%) of your gross weekly wages, with a ceiling amount established by the Secretary of Labor.
    • TemporaryPartial Benefits: This is compensation related to wage differences if you are unable to resume work full-time because of your injury or you cannot work with maximum productivity as a result. This is usually calculated as two-thirds of the difference between your former wage and your current wage under your changed employment status.
    • Permanent Impairment Benefits: This is compensation for permanent disability or loss of function. If you qualify for these kinds of benefits, you should expect to receive a percentage of either a scheduled or non-scheduled loss. This will depend on whether your injury causes permanent disability or loss of function to an external body part, like a limb, or an internal body part, like an organ.
    • Disfigurement Benefits: You may file for benefits one (1) year after your injury for any scars, burns, or amputations resulting from your workplace injury.
    • Death Benefits: If your occupational injury or illness results in your death, benefits may be payable to your dependent survivors. The payments will depend on the number of dependents and personal characteristics of those dependents, including their age and their enrollment in full-time schooling. This is usually calculated at about eighty-percent (80%) of a maximum rate of wages determined by the Secretary of Labor.
  5. How much time do I have to file my claim? What are the stages of the claims process? What should I expect?If your employer refuses to compensate you for your injuries or you are unsatisfied with the compensation agreement between you and your employer, you have two years from the date of your injury to file a petition with the Office of Workers’ Compensation. After you complete and file the petition, a pretrial hearing is scheduled by the Office of Workers’ Compensation. At the pretrial, a pretrial memorandum is completed whereby you will list all benefits you are seeking and name any witnesses you may call for at the hearing. The next step is that a hearing date is assigned. The Industrial Accident Board or a Hearings Officer will conduct hearings. This is a formal proceeding, although different than a hearing that might be held before the Superior Court.
  6. If I am not happy with the determination, how do I appeal?After a pre-trial hearing has been held, you or your employer has up to thirty (30) days to request a mediation to resolve any issues or disagreements that persist past the pre-trial hearing. Decisions made by the Industrial Review Board are final and conclusive unless within thirty days of receiving a determination, either of the parties files for appeal. An appeal is filed with the state Superior Court. All appeals made in the Superior Court must comply with the rules of that court and are subject to the procedures and styling of that court.


Washington DC Department of Employment Services Workers' Compensation Program

  1.  I had an accident at work. How do I file a workers compensation claim in DC?You must report your injury to your employer and the Office of Workers’ Compensation with 30 of the injury or knowledge of the injury by filing DCWC Form 7.Within one year of the injury, you must file a claim on DCWC Form 7A in order to preserve your rights to works compensation benefits.If your employer denies your request for compensation, you can request an informal conference with a claims examiner who will issue an informal conference recommendation within 30 days, or you can request a formal hearing by filing an Application for Formal Hearing.2. Should my employer have workers compensation insurance? How do I know I am covered?Any employer in Washington, DC that has at least one employee is required to have workers compensation insurance.3. What are the conditions that enable me or prevent me from claiming benefits under my state’s law?The injury must have been accidental and there must have been at least a causal relationship between the injury and the condition of the employment. Any intentional, self-inflicted injuries will not be compensated. The cause of the injury does not have to be unexpected or accidental, only the injury itself.4. What benefits might I be eligible to receive? You are eligible to receive 66 2/3% of your average weekly wage and have 100% of your medical expenses paid. Average weekly wage is determined using your average weekly wage during the 26 weeks before the injury. The maximum weekly rate is $1,466.29 and the minimum rate is $366.57.Additionally, employers must provide vocational rehabilitation and assist you with finding suitable alternative employment.If a work-related injury results in death, the surviving spouse and the children of the employee are entitled to death benefits and may be able to receive funeral expenses up to $5,000. If the employee had neither spouse nor children, a dependent parent may be entitled to 25% of the wages earned during the dependence.5. How much time do I have to file my claim? What are the stages of the claim process? What should I expect?You must report your injury to your employer and the Office of Workers’ Compensation with 30 of the injury or knowledge of the injury by filing DCWC Form 7. Within one year of the injury, you must file a claim on DCWC Form 7A in order to preserve your rights to works compensation benefits. An employer must file a DCWC Form 8 no later than 10 days after learning of an employee injury. Compensation is not paid for the first 3 days of disability unless disability exceeds 14 days. You may choose your own physician, but once you choose you may not change the physician unless you get approval from your employer’s insurance company or the Office of Workers’ Compensation.6. If I’m not happy with the determination, how do I appeal?If you are unhappy, you can request an informal conference with a claims examiner who will issue an informal conference recommendation within 30 days or you can request a formal hearing by filing an Application for Formal Hearing.


Florida Division of Workers' Compensation

  1. I had an accident at work. How do I file a workers compensation claim in my state?If you are injured on the job, you should notify your employer as soon as possible. You have thirty (30) days from the date of your accident or thirty (30) days from when your doctor has informed you that you are suffering from a work-related injury to notify your employer. Failing to notify your employer within these time frames may deprive you of the opportunity to file a claim or increase the chances of your claim being denied.Your employer is then expected to contact his workers’ compensation insurance provider and inform them of your injuries within seven days of you notifying your employer about the accident. If your employer does not contact the insurance provider, you may contact the insurance provider yourself. This information should either be readily available at your workplace or you may request the information from the Employee Assistance and Ombudsman Office.Your employer and your employer’s insurance provider should complete the First Report of Injury or Illness (DWC-1).After you have notified your employer about your injury, you are expected to utilize the services of the medical provider authorized by your employer. Your employer’s insurance provider will pay for all authorized medical bills.
  2. Should my employer have workers compensation insurance? How do I know if I am covered?Your employer is expected to partake in an insurance coverage program when:
    • Your employer, who is not in the construction industry, has four (4) or more full or part-time employees.
    • Your employer, who is in the construction industry, has one (1) or more employees, your employer included.
    • Your employer is a state or local government.
    • Your employer is a farmer with more than five (5) regular employees and/or twelve (12) or more seasonal employees who work for thirty or more days.

    Your employer should post information about your employer’s insurance coverage plan and provider somewhere readily accessible at your place of work. If you have difficulty obtaining information about your employer’s insurance provider, you may contact the Employee Assistance and Ombudsman Office.

  3. What are the conditions that enable me or prevent me from claiming benefits under my state’s law?Under Florida state law, you are not entitled to receive wages for time lost from work if your injury prevents you from working for fewer than seven (7) days. Should your injury prevent you from returning to work for over twenty-one (21) days, you may be able to receive wages for the first seven (7) days you were unable to return to work.
  4. What benefits might I be eligible to receive?If your employer and/or your employer’s insurance provider choose to accept your claim, you may be entitled to medical benefits and partial wage replacement benefits.Medical benefits include all medically necessary treatment and care required for the process of recovery related to your injury. This may include medications, medical supplies, durable medical equipment and prosthetics. In order to receive medical benefits, your work-related injury must be the major contributing cause for medical treatment. The extent to which you receive medical treatment will be determines by your treating physician. He will establish when you have received Maximum Medical Improvement.You may be entitled to monetary benefits, in the form of partial wage replacement as well. This will come in the form of either Temporary Total Disability or Temporary Partial disability. Temporary Total Disability benefits are paid when your disability is total in character, but temporary in quality. Your benefits will be calculated and paid to you as two-thirds (66.67 %) of your average weekly wage. Temporary Partial Disability payments are paid to you if you are able to return back to work but earn less than eighty percent (80%) of your pre-injury wage.You may receive Temporary Total or Temporary Partial Disability payments for no more than 104 weeks.If you are unable to return to work in the same capacity as you were employed prior to your accident, you may seek the assistance of Florida reemployment services to help you return to work. These services include vocational counseling, job-seeking skills, job placement, and job training or retraining. You may contact the Department of Education, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Bureau of Rehabilitation and Reemployment Services to learn more about different opportunities they may offer.
  5. How much time do I have to file my claim? What are the stages of the claims process? What should I expect?You have thirty (30) days from your accident or thirty (30) days from your doctor’s diagnosis that you are suffering from a work-related injury to notify your employer that you plan to seek workers’  compensation. Your employer has seven (7) days from the time you notify your employer of the injury to contact the insurance provider. If your employer and/or insurance provider deny your claim for workers’ compensation you have two (2) years to file a petition for benefits with the Employment Assistance Office. You may elect to be represented by an attorney, however, it is not required.To begin the petition process, you must file a Petition for Benefits form with the Office of Judges of Compensation Claims. Once the Petition is filed, the carrier must either pay the requested benefits without prejudice to its right to deny within 120 days of receiving the petition or file a response. The response will provide the insurance provider’s justifications for why each requested benefit was not paid.A Judge of Compensation Claims reviews the Petition as well as the response, scheduling a mediation date to resolve the issues.
  6. If I am not happy with the determination, how do I appeal?If you are not happy with the determination made during the mediation with the Judge of Compensation Claims, you may pursue an administrative hearing. This will include a pre-trial hearing and then a final hearing. These proceedings resemble proceedings in a trial, where you and your attorney on your behalf present evidence and expert testimony related to your case and claim. The judge will issue a decision within thirty (30) days of your final hearing. If you remain unsatisfied with the determination, you may appeal to the First District Court of Appeals.


Georgia State Board Workers' Compensation Commission

  1. I had an accident at work. How do I file a workers compensation claim in my state?To file a claim you must complete a WC-14 with the State Board of Workers Compensation and send a copy to the form to your employer and the workers’ compensation insurance carrier.If your injury requires you seek medical attention, consult the information provided by your employer about appropriate medical providers you may request care from. Your employer is required to post at least six (6) doctors or the name of the certified medical care provider you may consult. Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier will pay for your authorized medical treatment.
  2. Should my employer have workers compensation insurance? How do I know if I am covered?Your employer is required by law to purchase workers’ compensation insurance if your employer employs three or more persons in a Georgia business, whether full-time or part-time employees. To determine whether your employer is participating in a coverage plan, you may visit the State Board of Workers’ Compensation  website to gain access to more information.
  3. What are the conditions that enable me or prevent me from claiming benefits under my state’s law?If you are involved in an accident while on the job, your accident will be classified as either catastrophic or non-catastrophic. Catastrophic injuries are those involving amputations, severe paralysis, severe head injury, severe burns, blindness, or of a nature and severity that prevents you from working in your typical field of work or a large proportion of jobs available. If you suffer from a catastrophic injury, you are entitled to receive wage, medical, or vocational rehabilitation benefits.All other kinds of injuries suffered as a result of a workplace accident, you are entitled to receive wage benefits for as long as you’re disabled, but no longer than 400 weeks.A compensable work-related claim must be one arising out of and in the course of your employment (i.e. while you are performing assigned duties during regular work hours). You will not be entitled to benefits if your injury is a result of your own willful misconduct, non-compliance with workplace rules and protocol, and/or a result of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.You may risk your entitlement for benefits by: failing to report your injuries promptly; failing to cooperate with your employer or authorized medical provider; refusing to return to suitable employment; working elsewhere while receiving disability benefits; submitting false information; refusing to take a drug test and/or other medical examinations reasonably required by the authorized medical care provider.
  4. What benefits might I be eligible to receive?Medical benefits covered by your employer’s insurance provider may include authorized doctor bill, hospital bills, physical therapy, prescriptions, and necessary travel expenses.You may also be entitled to weekly wage benefits if you are unable to work for more than seven days as a result of your workplace accident/injury. Your benefits will be calculated as two-thirds of your average weekly wage, but no more than $500.00 per week. You will receive these benefits for up to 400 weeks.If you are able to return to work but are not able to work in the same capacity as prior to the injury, you may receive a reduced benefit to compensate your earnings for up to 350 weeks after the date of your injury. This benefit cannot exceed $334.00 per week.If you are unable to return to work in the field you previously were employed as a result of your injury, you may receive aid in the form of vocational training or job assistance.
  5. How much time do I have to file my claim? What are the stages of the claims process? What should I expect?You should report any accident you are involved with to your employer as soon as possible, but no later than thirty (30) days after the date of incident. From that point, your employer should contact your employer’s insurance provider to make a determination about covering expenses and certain benefits related to your accident. If your employer or your employer’s insurance provider deny your claim, you have one year from the time of your last authorized medical treatment or two (2) years from your last payment of weekly benefits to file a claim with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation commission.If your claim is denied, your employer and/or your employer’s insurance provider will provide you notification for the reason of denial. If you are unsatisfied with the determination, you may request a hearing with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation within one year of the date of your injury.
  6. If I am not happy with the determination, how do I appeal?Your claim is considered open until all benefits are paid or once you, your employer, and/or your employer’s insurance provider agree upon a settlement.If you remain dissatisfied with the determination of the State Workers’ Compensation Board, you may appeal to the Georgia courts to review your claim. Georgia law and the respective court rules of the court to which you appeal will govern your appeal.


Hawaii Department of Workers' Compensation

  1. 1. I had an accident at work. How do I file a workers compensation claim in my state?If you are injured on the job, you should notify your supervisor and/or employer immediately and seek the appropriate medical treatmentUpon notifying your employer, your employer should complete and submit a WC-1 Form to the division within seven (7) days of your injury. If your employer fails to do so, you may complete a WC-5 Form and submit it to the division yourself.Your employer is also expected to provide you with a copy of the Hawaii Workers’ Compensation Law (Highlights) brochure within three (3) days of your injury. This pamphlet will give you a brief overview of your rights and the procedures entailed in filing a workers’ compensation claim.In order to proceed with a workers’ compensation claim, your injury must be the result the work you perform at your place of employment or a result of working conditions at your place of employment. Certain fields of employment are exempted from workers’ compensation laws in Hawaii. As excerpted from the Hawaii Division of Labor website, these include:Voluntary or unpaid workers for a religious, charitable, educational or nonprofit organization; student workers performing services for a school, university or college club in return for room, board or tuition; duly ordained, commissioned or licensed minister, priest or rabbi; domestic workers earning less than $225 (cash) per calendar quarter; domestic workers of public welfare recipients; certain twenty-five (25) percent stockholders; all fifty (50) percent stockholders; and real estate salespersons and brokers paid solely on a commission basis. An employer may, however, elect to cover the excluded employees.2. Should my employer have workers compensation insurance? How do I know if I am covered?Any employer with one or more employees, whether full- or part-time, permanent or temporary, is expected to provide workers’ compensation coverage. Although not required to purchase, most employers do purchase workers’ compensation insurance from an insurance provider. The employer, however, is not permitted to force an employee to contribute to payment for premiums. Some employers prefer to become self-insured, in which case the employer may be expected to provide some proof of financial solvency to the division.Regardless of the form of coverage your employer chooses to pursue, your employer must post information about the coverage plan, benefits, and procedures for filing a claim at your place of work that is readily accessible to all employees.3. What are the conditions that enable me or prevent me from claiming benefits under my state’s law?In order to receive benefits under the Hawaii Workers’ Compensation system, your injury must be a result of the work performed at your place of employment or as a result of the working conditions at your place of employment.4. What benefits might I be eligible to receive?The benefits you will be able to receive will depend on the nature and severity of your injury. Your doctor will play a large role in determining the extent of your injury, the time expected for recovery, and the extent to which you will be able to return back to work. Generally, however, workers’ compensation benefits under Hawaii law will fall into the following categories:
    • Medical Benefits: Cover the expenses related to treatments, services, and supplies related to your workplace injury.
    • Temporary Total Disability Benefits: Wage loss compensation for the duration of time your doctor deems you are injured.
    • Permanent Partial Disability Benefits: Payments related to wage losses resulting from the percentage of function and ability to work lost.
    • Permanent Total Disability Benefits: Money paid to you in the event that your injury prevents you from returning back to work at all.
    • Disfigurement Benefits: Money paid to you for any disfigurement caused to you by your injury. This is usually a set amount based on the type of disfigurement to a certain body part or organ.
    • Death Benefits: Benefits paid to your survivors and/or dependent(s) in the event that your workplace injury results in your death.
    • Vocational Rehabilitation: Services and opportunities for job placement and re-training to help you return back to work in your former field or in a new one.

    5. What medical benefits will workers compensation pay for?

    If your claim is accepted, workers’ compensation should pay for the following:

    • Treatments for the injury.
    • Hospital charges.
    • Prescription drugs ordered by your doctor.
    • X-rays as prescribed.
    • Physical therapy as ordered by your doctor.
    • Reasonable transportation expense incidental to treatment. (Keep track of your expenses and mileage.)

    6. How much time do I have to file my claim? What are the stages of the claims process? What should I expect?Upon notifying your employer of your injury, your employer should file a WC-1 form and submit it to the division within seven days of your injury. If your employer fails to do so, you may file a WC-5 form on your own behalf. Your employer and/or your employer’s insurance provider will make a determination about whether to approve or deny your claim. Your claim remains open until your employer has made the final payment of benefits to you.

    7. If I am not happy with the determination, how do I appeal?If issues emerge or you are unsatisfied with the determination made, you may request a hearing with the division. A hearing will be scheduled and overseen by a hearings officer who will make a decision about your case within sixty (60) days of the hearing.

    You or your employer may file an appeal within twenty (20) days of the hearings officer’s determination if you remain unsatisfied. The determination at this point is considered final within the administrative proceedings of the division.

    If the issues of the claim remain unresolved or your remain unsettled, you may file an appeal to the Hawaii Supreme Court within thirty (30) days of your final appeal to the division pursuant to § 12-14-49.


Idaho Industrial Commission

  1. I had an accident at work. How do I file a workers compensation claim in my state?If you have an accident at work, notify your employer as soon as possible and seek the appropriate medical treatment if necessary. You may contact your employer or your employer’s insurance company about the injury. When seeking medical care, it is also important to inform the doctor, nurse, or medical professional attending to you that this injury occurred at work.In order to request benefits in a workers’ compensation claim, you should aim to notify your employer or your employer’s insurance company within sixty (60) days of the injury. You must also complete a First Report of Injury or Illness form to provide to the Idaho Industrial Commission.It is important to report any injury or illness you believe to be resultant from work, no matter how large or how small.
  2. Should my employer have workers compensation insurance? How do I know if I am covered?Your employer is expected to carry workers’ compensation insurance and to pay benefits related to your workers’ compensation claim. If your employer is not insured or fails to provide you with information about the insurance coverage plan your employer partakes in, contact the Idaho Industrial Commission’s Employer Compliance Department.
  3. What are the conditions that enable me or prevent me from claiming benefits under my state’s law?The best way to guarantee that you will receive benefits in a possible workers’ compensation claim is to comply with the proper reporting procedures and filing requirements. Report your injury or illness, no matter how minor, to your employer if you believe it is work-related. Also, help your employer or your employer’s insurance provider to complete the First Report of Injury or Illness form.
  4. What benefits might I be eligible to receive?Depending on the nature of your workers’ compensation claim and the severity of your injury, you may be entitled to the following benefits:
    • Medical Benefits: Your employer will pay for all reasonably necessary medical care related to treatment for your injury or illness. These may include, but are not limited to, emergency medical care, doctor’s bills, x-rays, medications, and travel expenses related to seeking treatment and care.
    • Total Disability Benefits: To be eligible for total disability benefits, your doctor or treating physician must first determine that your injury or illness is work-related. These benefits will be in form of wage replacement should your injury/illness causes you to miss more than five days of work or if you require hospitalization.
    • Total Partial Disability Benefits: If you are able to return to work after suffering a work-relate injury/illness but only part-time, these benefits will compensate you for the difference of pay between your former full-time wages and your new part-time wages.
    • Permanent Impairment/Disability Benefits: These are benefits to compensate you when you face permanent disability, but you are still able to return back to work. These benefits will be calculated on a case-by-case basis, determined by the extent of your injury. In certain situations, you may be able to apply for extended benefits.
    • Death: Death benefits are paid to dependents of an individual who dies as a result of a work-related injury or illness. These benefits will be paid for a period of 500 weeks. If the decedent leaves behind children as dependents, up to three children may qualify for benefits until the age of eighteen (18). These death benefits may also include compensation for funeral expenses should the death occur within four years of the injury.
    • Rehabilitation Services: The Idaho Industrial Commission provides a wide array of rehabilitation and vocational services to assist you in returning to work after treating your injury or illness.
  5. How much time do I have to file my claim? What are the stages of the claims process? What should I expect?You must notify your employer within sixty (60) days of your injury should you plan to file a workers’ compensation claim. Should you have any issues with receiving benefits or filing your claim, approach your employer or contact your employer’s insurance provider. An Idaho Industrial Commission Compensation Consultant is also available to assist you with any issues you may have while filing your claim.
  6.  If I am not happy with the determination, how do I appeal?Should you have any problems with your employer or your employer’s insurance provider related to receiving benefits or filing your claim, request a formal hearing process with the Industrial Commission. These formal hearings are litigation proceedings overseen by judicial referees or commissioners. You have the option of hiring an attorney to assist you in these proceedings should you find yourself in need of one. Once the case is presented before the Industrial Commission, you will receive the Commission’s determination via a written order.The Industrial Commission encourages you to seek mediation if feasible prior to filing for a formal hearing. A mediation is a voluntary, informal meeting to work on the issues of a disputed claim. A neutral intermediary will facilitate the mediation and seeks to administer a settlement or agreement through the course of the proceedings. Mediations are highly recommended because they often save time, involve no risk, exhibit high success rates in many cases.

Retaliation: Workers’ Compensation


I was injured at work and want to file a workers compensation claim, but I am worried about losing my job. Can my employer fire me for filing a workers compensation claim?

Employers facing increased insurance costs (or direct payment to the employee if they are the direct insurer) may be tempted to retaliate against employees who seek their rightful workers compensation benefits.

In most states, it is against the law for your employer to fire or otherwise retaliate against you because you brought a workers’ compensation claim, depending on the facts of your individual case and whether your state has a law protecting against workers compensation retaliation.


Which federal law(s) make it illegal to retaliate on the basis of seeking workers compensation?

Federal law does not have a prohibition against workers compensation retaliation. However, there are numerous federal laws prohibiting other kinds of retaliation.

While many states have protection against workers compensation retaliation as a necessary safeguard against employer abuse, not all states have laws, and there is some variation among state laws. There are many similarities among these laws. For example, the way an employee proves retaliation and some of the procedures involved often have much in common.

If you feel you have suffered retaliation for filing a workers compensation claim, you may want to consult with an attorney to learn more about any protections that may apply to you.


How can I show that I was retaliated against in violation of the workers compensation law?

While individual state laws may vary, to win a case of workers compensation retaliation, you must generally be able to prove all four of the following elements:

 That you were an employee entitled to receive benefits under the workers compensation law;

 That you took some protected activity, such as filing a claim for compensation;

 That you suffered an adverse employment action, such as termination or other change in the terms and conditions of your employment; and

 That the employer was motivated by your protected activity to impose the adverse action.


Which individuals are protected from retaliation under the law?

While state laws may vary, generally you must be an employee. Your employer must participate in the state workers compensation program or be self-insured.

You must have acted in good faith in seeking workers compensation benefits or engaging in protected activity. While you may still bring a retaliation claim even if you lose your underlying workers compensation claim, your state might not protect you from retaliation if your workers compensation claim was knowingly false, fraudulent, or not brought in good faith. You may want to consult with an attorney to learn more about your state’s law.


What is considered to be protected activity covered by laws against workers compensation retaliation?

In order to be protected, you must have exercised a right granted by the workers compensation program. State laws differ as to what constitutes an exercise of this right. Some state laws require that you formally document the on-the-job injury with the employer or the workers compensation bureau.

However, most state laws are written more broadly. For example, you may be protected when you have claimed or attempted to claim a benefit, made known your intention to file a claim, or even simply suffered a work injury, which is compensable under the workers compensation law.

While in some states, you may still have protection against retaliation without formally filing a written claim for workers compensation benefits, the best way to make sure you are covered by anti-retaliation laws is to actually fill out and file the necessary claims documents promptly after you are injured.


What actions by the employer are considered to be retaliation?

You must show that the employer had discharged or otherwise treated you adversely because of your workers compensation claim. All states with retaliation laws recognize that it is illegal to terminate an employee, but state laws differ as to the range of other employer actions that are considered to be illegal retaliation.

Despite the variations between state laws, all the laws uniformly require some identifiable change in the terms or conditions of your employment that is to your detriment, such as:

 demotions;

 changes in position or responsibilities;

 lowered pay; or

 unwarranted disciplinary actions.


How do I prove that the protected activity caused the adverse action?

For you to win, you must prove that your employer’s action (termination, demotion, etc.) was because of your protected activity. This is called “causation.” This is often the most disputed and difficult part of proving your retaliation claim.

A state may require only that your actions were a substantial factor in the decision to terminate or otherwise change the position of the employee. Alternatively, state law may require that the solereason for termination was your action in seeking compensation benefits. Most states fall somewhere in between, and require that your actions be a determinative factor.

In addition to the specific law of the state, the circumstances of the case will determine whether you were illegally discriminated against. An alternative legitimate reason for termination, such as a violation of company policy or poor performance reviews, often plays a large role, and can be used by the employer to defend against your retaliation claim.

However, unlawful retaliation can be inferred from timing (how soon it occurred after the employer learned about the protected activity), animus (the boss getting angry about the protected activity), deviation from normal practices (people are not usually fired for this reason, or in this manner), changing explanations, a pattern of adverse actions against employees who file workers compensation claims, or the use of false evidence.


If I think I have grounds to sue my employer for retaliating against me, what do I do?

Many states require a retaliation claim to be filed very soon after the retaliation occurs. You may need to take some action under your state’s law in a period as short as a few weeks or months. If you believe you have been the target of retaliation related to a workers compensation claim, it is critical that you learn your state’s time limit immediately by contacting an attorney licensed in your state. If you do not file within the time limit in your state, you may lose your rights to take action against your employer’s retaliation.

For more information about workers compensation, see our site’s main workers compensation page.