Workplace accidents and injuries happen. They occur in some jobs more than others. Maybe you’ve suffered a few injuries over the many years of your career that required medical treatment and some time off of work. You filed workers’ compensation claims to get the benefits you needed and were entitled to collect.
Now you’re applying for a job with a new employer. You’re concerned that those claims might come back to haunt you. Even though the injuries weren’t caused by your negligence or actions, you know that some businesses consider people who file workers’ comp claims accident-prone or, worse, “trouble makers.”
Can a potential employer ask you about any past workers’ comp claims? Can they access your workers’ comp claim records? Let’s take these questions one at a time.
Employers can’t legally ask about workers’ comp claims
Of course, that doesn’t mean they won’t try. However, you’re protected from having to answer any questions about your health or any disabilities by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The only thing an employer has the right to know is whether you’re able to perform the duties required by the job (with or without reasonable accommodations).
If you require reasonable accommodations, they would need to provide those. However, if the job would require lifting heavy boxes every day and a back injury would make that impossible for you, there’s probably no “reasonable” accommodation that would allow you to do the job.
Can potential employers gain access to your workers’ comp history?
According to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC), employers “are limited to viewing only the claims that they are associated with.” That means if you’re seeking a job with a new employer, they wouldn’t be able to access claims made by people when they were employed by other businesses.
Employers are also prohibited from putting workers’ comp claim information in their employee files. It should never come up if a former employer is called for a reference check.
If you believe you’ve been turned down for a job because of your workers’ comp history, whether you disclosed it or someone else wrongfully provided or obtained the information, it may be wise to determine what legal options you may have.