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Federated Insurance: Disregarding Safety Instructions

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One of our employees is constantly disregarding safety instructions. He recently injured himself at work and filed a workers’ compensation claim. This is the third time in the past two years this has happened, and it will probably continue because he doesn’t follow safety rules. Are we allowed to discipline him when workers’ compensation is involved? I don’t want to keep having these claims when it’s his own fault for not following directions.


Employees who exercise their rights to file claims under state workers’ compensation statutes are protected from retaliation. Disciplining an employee who has filed a claim (or has a history of filing claims) on account of an employer’s desire not to have to deal with such claims may expose the employer to significant liability for retaliation.

That said, employees who have experienced workplace injuries due to their own safety violations are not insulated against the consequences of having engaged in such infractions. An employer should proceed with discipline (up to and including termination) in a manner consistent with company policy and past practice, assuming any other employee who committed a similar safety violation would be disciplined as well. An employer should investigate the facts surrounding a breach of safety procedures, and if it’s found that the employee violated a safety protocol, disciplinary action should be taken.

Remember that an employer may discipline an at-will employee for any legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason. Therefore, if an employer’s decision to discipline or terminate an employee is based on his or her violation of a company’s safety policy (and not because he or she exercised rights under workers’ compensation laws), the employer can proceed, as long as doing so is consistent with company policy and past practice.


Federated Insurance is an ACCA Platinum Corporate Partner. To learn more about our Corporate Partner program, visit our website here or contact ACCA’s Strategic Partnerships Manager, Kenzi Vizzari, at 703-824-8862 or

Federated provides its clients access to this information through the Federated Employment Practices Network with the understanding that neither Federated nor its employees provide legal or employment advice. As such, Federated does not warrant the accuracy, adequacy, or completeness of the information herein. This information may be subject to restrictions and regulation in your state. Consult with your own qualified legal counsel regarding your specific facts and circumstances.

Federated Insurance

Posted In: HR, Partner News, Safety

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