New Jersey employees who suffer injuries in the workplace have the right to seek workers’ compensation benefits from their employers. Unfortunately, not all employers respond favorably to claims for benefits, and some terminate injured employees in retaliation for filing workers’ compensation claims. While generally people fired after being hurt at work can seek recourse via the civil courts, in some instances they may be forced to arbitrate their claims due to contractual agreements with their employers. This was discussed recently by a New Jersey court. If you lost your job after sustaining injuries at work, it is wise to meet with a skillful New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney to determine your options.

The Plaintiff’s Claims

It is reported that the plaintiff worked as a production manager at a facility owned by the defendant, a company that made and sold vegan products. In October 2018, while using a machine designed to mold cookies, the plaintiff severely injured his hand. As such, he filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Less than two weeks after his injury, he was terminated. He then filed a lawsuit in a New Jersey federal court alleging, in part, that he was terminated in retaliation for seeking workers’ compensation benefits, in violation of the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act.

Allegedly, the defendant moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims and enforce a provision of an employment agreement that required the plaintiff to arbitrate certain claims. The court ultimately found that the agreement was enforceable and applied to the subject claims, and dismissed the case.

Enforceability of Arbitration Agreements in New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Cases

As an arbitration agreement is a contract between two parties, a court’s order to arbitrate must be based upon the parties’ consent. In other words, a court can enforce an arbitration agreement, but only in cases in which the development of the agreement between the parties is not in dispute.

Thus, if a plaintiff’s complaint and documents attached thereto do not demonstrate a clear agreement to arbitrate, or where a plaintiff responds to a motion to arbitrate with facts that demonstrate there is a dispute as to whether an issue should be arbitrated, the court must determine whether an issue of fact remains that requires a trial on the matter of arbitrability. In the subject case, the court found that the arbitration agreement in question clearly defined that the plaintiff’s claims must be resolved via arbitration. As such, the court issued an order enforcing the agreement and dismissing the plaintiff’s claims.

Speak to a Dedicated New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Attorney

People hurt at work often can recover workers’ compensation benefits, but only if they can prove the existence of an employment relationship. If you were terminated after being hurt at work, you might be able to pursue claims against your employer alleging violations of New Jersey’s Workers’ Compensation Act and it is advisable to meet with a lawyer as soon as possible. The dedicated New Jersey workers’ compensation attorneys of The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall are proficient at helping people who were unlawfully fired after suffering workplace injuries in the pursuit of damages, and we can help you seek a just result. You can reach us via our online form or by calling us at 800-999-0897 to set up a conference.