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When Can You Sue Your Employer After An Injury

In Rhode Island, laws surrounding employment appear rather straightforward.

Full-time employment, contractors, unions and non-union positions, and everything in between are in play, which can make navigating a questionable firing or the aftermath of a workers’ compensation claim difficult.

If you find yourself wondering how or if you can sue your employer in Rhode Island, be sure to do your due diligence and seek council from a workers’ compensation attorney today.

Wrongful Termination

Rhode Island adheres to at-will employment. This doctrine, in short, means employers and employees may terminate employment at almost any time for nearly any reason.

It also means that in the case of an employer terminating an employee, there is no burden on the employer to provide said fired employee an explanation for the firing.

This can leave some burning questions for a worker, especially if a firing occurs under less than normal circumstances. A wrongful termination is a case where the at-will employment laws do not apply to the firing and thus do not protect the employer. In the case of on-the-job injuries and workers’ compensation cases, retaliation is a potential reason for firing.


Safety Claims – Whistleblowing

In numerous cases where workers’ compensation might be in play, there are those who will make safety claims against the company for which they work. This is well within an employee’s rights, per the regulations set by OSHA, and the employee is protected and their identity will be kept confidential.

However, there are times where an employer may find out who filed a safety complaint with OSHA and take action to prevent any more issues from leaking out of the closed doors of the company.

If you filed a safety claim in the hopes of avoiding injury, yet found yourself terminated, there is potential to find grounds for a lawsuit against your employer, especially given the protections provided by The Rhode Island Whistleblowers’ Protection Act § 28-50-3.

Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation cases have some similarities to safety claim filings, depending on the case and the place of work. Both can shed light on less than ideal situations or internal happenings of a company, which may lead to negative press for the company in question.

If you find yourself being fired following filing a workers’ compensation claim and can think of no other reason for your firing, you may have a case. If there was no drop off in your performance or marginal changes in your routine, yet your employer terminated you, there is reason to believe retaliation may be in play.

Filing a workers’ compensation claim is within your rights, assuming the claim is due to circumstances that any workers’ compensation claim would fall under. A firing based on a claim would be considered a discriminatory firing, creating a strong case.

Come see our trusted Rhode Island workers’ compensation lawyers and let us help you with this potentially complicated situation.


It is important to understand the difference between a workers’ compensation case and a negligence case.

When it comes to workers’ compensation claims and cases, there is no fault at play. One way or another, the injured party will receive compensation whether the accident was the result of actions by the employee, a coworker, or the employer. However, an employee cannot sue an employer for negligence if there is workers’ compensation in play.

If the injuries were caused by a third-party, then a negligence suit may be appropriate, but employers are safe outside the realm of a workers’ compensation case.

Wrongful firings and the subsequent lawsuits against employers in Rhode Island can be a complicated and messy piece of legal work.

If you find yourself in a wrongful termination situation due to an injury on the job and are seeking the next best course of action, contact the team at Gemma Law Associates, Inc. and let us fight for you.

  • Mark Gemma

    Mark Gemma is a Rhode Island personal injury lawyer, and is a Principal of Gemma Law Associates, Inc. With 25 years of legal experience, Mark is nationally recognized for his legal ethics, receiving an AV Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell in 2009. Some of his legal specialties include auto accidents, wrongful death, and slip and fall cases. You can reach him at mark@gemmalaw.com.

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