Q: Can I be fired for filing a claim under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act?
No. Your employer cannot legally fire you simply because you filed or planned to file a workers’ compensation claim. However, the company can terminate you for reasons unrelated to the claim while the claim is still open.
Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act Benefits
The benefits of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) are available to any worker involved in the construction, repair, loading, or unloading of seafaring vessels. The LHWCA compensates injured workers for medical expenses, rehabilitative treatment, and lost income. Should a work-related injury or illness result in death, the employee’s spouse or surviving children are entitled to funeral expenses plus compensation based on the worker’s average weekly wages. Covered injuries may occur aboard a vessel on navigable waters or on a nearby wharf, pier, or dry dock.
The types of workers eligible for benefits under the LHWCA include:
- Ship repairers
- Harbor workers
- Ship breakers
Section 49 of the LHWCA prohibits employers and their agents from discriminating against an employee claiming or attempting to claim workers’ compensation, or who has testified or is about to testify in a workers’ comp proceeding. While this means that an employee cannot be fired for filing a workers’ compensation claim, he can still be terminated for other reasons. Furthermore, a worker may be fired for knowingly and willfully filing a false claim.
Penalties under the LHWCA were recently increased to a minimum of $2,259 and a maximum of $11,293. The company will also be required to restore the worker to his employment, along with any lost wages resulting from the discrimination he has suffered, unless he is no longer qualified to perform his employment duties.
No one should have to fear being fired simply for pursuing his or her right to collect maritime workers’ compensation benefits. If you’ve suffered retaliation for filing a LHWCA claim, you deserve compensation. To discuss your claim, contact the law offices of Steve M. Lee, P.C., by using the form on this page.