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Illinois Court Awards $3.3 Million in Workers’ Compensation Case


When a person is injured in the workplace, they have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim and recover compensation for lost wages, medical bills and other damages. However, some employers retaliate against workers who file claims. This is because a claim can sometimes raise insurance premiums, and when this happens, some employers get angry and decide to treat their employees negatively.

This was what happened in Illinois. A jury found that Dean Foods had retaliated against an employee who was injured while on the job. The employee took the case to the U.S District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and was awarded more than $3.3 million.

The employee was injured while working for Dean Foods in 2013. He had surgery and attempted to return to work the following year. He was ready to return to light-duty work, but Dean Foods never offered him a position. Instead, they offered him work that exceeded his medical restrictions.

The jury also found that Dean Foods did not accommodate the man’s disability. The company never had a dialogue with the man about his disabilities and restrictions and therefore violated the Americans with Disability Act. The jury determined that Dean Foods retaliated against the man and awarded him $3,316,443 in punitive damages.

What is Workers’ Compensation Retaliation?

When a person is injured while performing work duties, they have the ability to file a claim for compensation, regardless of who is at fault. An employer should never discourage an injured employee from filing a claim. If a person does file a claim and the employer retaliates against them in anyway for doing so, then they can be forced to pay punitive damages to the employee.

Retaliation can come about in many forms. An employer can engage in many acts that can be considered retaliation, including the following:

  • Terminating an employee
  • Demoting or transferring an employee to a different department
  • Reducing the employee’s pay
  • Reducing hours
  • Threatening or harassing the injured employee
  • Giving unwarranted negative performance reviews or disciplining the employee

An employee can file a lawsuit if the employer’s retaliation or discrimination violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Proving retaliation, however, is not an easy task. An employee needs more than just a feeling that they are being retaliated against. You will need evidence such as voicemails, emails and letters. Verbal statements can also be used, but proving that your employer said them can be challenging. Inconsistent behavior, mood changes, body language, timing and falsified evidence can be used against your employer to strengthen your case.

Contact a Chicago Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today

Applying for workers’ compensation benefits can be a complicated process. Plus, many workers face retaliation from their employers for filing a claim.

The Chicago workers’ compensation accident lawyers at Harvey L. Walner & Associates, LTD can help you with any obstacles and challenges you may face. We have been protecting the rights of workers for more than 75 years. To schedule a consultation, fill out the online request form or call 312-800-0000.


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