If your employer fires you after filing a workers’ compensation claim then you would likely have a REDA claim against them. So what exactly is a REDA claim?
The Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act (REDA) is the statute that gives the Employment Discrimination Bureau (EDB) of North Carolina its enforcement power. REDA created an umbrella agency that could handle various employment complaints from workers’ compensation and whistle blower issues, to protecting those that suffer from certain health problems while in the workplace. When an employee files one of these various types of complaints, their actions are considered “protected activities.” This means an employer cannot retaliate if their employee files one of these complaints.
Simply put, REDA makes it possible for employees to file complaints regarding one of these activities without the fear of facing any type of retaliatory action by their employer. Therefore a REDA complaint is filed when an employer has retaliated against their employee because the employee filed one of these protected complaints.
REDA is most often applied when an employee files a workers compensation claim against their employer. If the employer decides to in some way retaliate against the employee because of the claim, or the threat of a complaint, then the EDB, acting under the authority of REDA can sue the employer for the retaliatory action. According to REDA, retaliatory action can range from firing an employee to simply not allowing them to perform an alternate job or work the hours the employee’s doctor regards as appropriate. If an employee believes that he or she is the victim of this type of retaliatory action, then they may file a complaint with the Employment Discrimination Bureau.
The EDB then investigates any complaints filed and decides whether to pursue the complaint. The important distinction for a REDA claim is that it is only viable if there is a retaliatory action. A person who simply has a dispute over workers compensation benefits, such as which doctor they choose to use, etc. would not file a REDA claim. A REDA claim will only be prosecuted if the employee can show that they were retaliated against because of some other claim or action.
The timeline of a REDA claim is that first there is an issue that makes the employee file a general complaint, this could be a workers compensation complaint, a whistle blower complaint or an OSHA complaint. Filing this initial complaint is viewed as a “protected activity.” If an employer then decides after an employee has filed a complaint or has threatened to file a complaint in one of these protected areas to retaliate against the employee, then a REDA complaint may be filed. Retaliation could mean firing the employee, taking away certain benefits, or demoting the employee. The Bureau will then investigate the complaint and decide whether or not to prosecute that particular claim. A REDA claim will not be valid if the employer can prove that their action would have occurred regardless of the employee’s actions. For example if the employee would have been fired before filing a workers compensation complaint because of past behavior, he or she can still be fired because of these previous issues. Even though the employee has participated in the “protected activity” of filing a workers compensation claim, this will not shield them for being fired for other reasons.