In a tight job market, employees are mindful to keep their social media profiles private for fear of looking unprofessional to prospective employers. However, there are some online records that workers can’t always hide from the prying eyes of hiring managers: workers’ compensation claims.
Today, the average person changes jobs 12 to 15 times during his or her career. During the interview process for a new position, it’s understandable that you might not want an employer to know you took time off in the past to recover from an injury. While your claim may be perfectly legitimate, there are many fraudulent claims out there that can inadvertently reflect poorly on your work record.
So, are workers’ compensation claims public information? Luckily, in California, you’re entitled to a degree of privacy.
IS MY WORKERS’ COMPENSATION RECORD PUBLIC IN SAN DIEGO?
Here’s the good news: if you file a workers’ compensation claim for a job-related injury and your claim is accepted, it won’t show up on your public record. You’ll receive benefits to cover your medical expenses and lost wages while you’re off the job, and future employers will be none the wiser. Should a potential employer ask if you’ve ever taken disability leave, disclose it. If the employer doesn’t ask, you’re under no obligation to share the information.
If your claim is denied and you submit an appeal to the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board, it does become a public record. Fortunately, this doesn’t spell disaster for future career opportunities. An employer is only permitted to access your workers’ compensation record after he or she has offered you a job. Even then, it’s illegal for an employer to withdraw a job offer based on what he or she finds.
WHO CAN ACCESS MY WORKERS’ COMPENSATION RECORD?
As previously stated, an employer can only access your workers’ compensation record after a job offer has been made. To do so, he or she must submit a “Request for Public Records” to the California Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board and cite a legitimate reason for the request. An employer can gain access to your workers’ compensation record only if a previous injury would interfere with your ability to perform your new job. If an employer requests your record, you will receive a notice from the Director of the Department of Workers’ Compensation stating:
“IT MAY BE A VIOLATION OF FEDERAL AND STATE LAW TO DISCRIMINATE AGAINST A JOB APPLICANT BECAUSE THE APPLICANT HAS FILED A CLAIM FOR WORKERS’ COMPENSATION BENEFITS.” (Cal. Labor Code § 138.7(b)(5))
If you are not hired after receiving this notice, you have to prove that the reason was that you previously filed for workers’ compensation. In situations like these, a workers’ compensation attorney can help.
If you believe an employer has discriminated against you because of a prior workers’ compensation claim, please contact us. At The Law Office of Matthew Russell, we’ll review your case, explain your rights, and advise you on the appropriate steps for taking legal action. Call us today at (619) 544-1506 to schedule your free consultation.