What is claim suppression?
Claim suppression is anything your employer says or does to discourage you from filing an industrial insurance/workers’ compensation claim.
Employee and employer relations
If you feel that your employer is doing anything to discourage you from filing a workplace injury claim, report it to the Department of Labor and Industries (and file your claim!). For info on how to file a claim, go to your doctor (they will generally file the claim for you) or visit the Washington State Department of L&I’s website.
Keep in mind that while your employer can’t suppress your claim, they don’t have to like it either. They have the right to monitor the claim and protest or appeal the allowance or any decisions or actions taken upon it. They also have the right to, and often do, hire third-party representatives to monitor (who are we kidding — they are there to fight you tooth and nail) your claim.
Another right your employer has is to offer you modified or light duty work while you recover. If this doesn’t have your antennae raised, it should. Light duty jobs can be a great compromise between you, your employer, and your doctor. They can also be beneficial to you financially (if you are physically able to stay at work and get your salary it will likely mean more money in your pocket than if you’re on time loss payments). BUT!!! These offers are often fraught with questionable intent, loopholes, and a general effort to get you, the injured worker, to quit. Give our blog on light duty jobs a quick read if this applies to you.
Claim suppression red flags
Examples may include your employer:
- Simply asking that you not file a claim after an injury
- Offering to pay some out-of-pocket costs you may have had after an injury
- Making outright threats to fire you or take other negative action in response to you filing a claim
Check out what the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries has to say here.
Seeking out professional legal help
Getting an attorney because your employer has engaged in claim suppression may or may not be necessary. The first step is to notify the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries. If you already have a claim open, call your claim manager to ask how to request an investigation. The Department will then handle the matter and determine whether the employer violated the rules. If you’re curious, you can read more in the Revised Code of Washington RCW 51.28.025.
Here’s the 411: If the L&I investigator does find that your employer has engaged in claim suppression, they can be fined up to $2,500 per occurrence; however, that money goes to the state, not you. Doesn’t really seem fair since you’re the one getting harassed. The light at the end of the tunnel there is that if you are terminated or otherwise discriminated against for filing an L&I claim, you may have a cause of action against your employer.
Carlisle + Byers workers’ compensation legal services
If you have been recently injured on the job and are unsure about whether or how to file a claim, or if you’ve already filed a claim and your employer is retaliating against you, call Carlisle + Byers. We are here to help, and consultations are free.