Workers in the meat and food packing industries have been hit especially hard by COVID-19. If you work in these cramped production lines and dangerous environments and contracted COVID-19 at work, you may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.
However, collecting these benefits is not always as simple as people would like.
Do you qualify?
Many workers do not apply for workers’ compensation because they do not think they qualify. This is not uncommon in occupations like meatpacking, which have a high population of immigrants and refugees working.
And because people can get COVID-19 outside of work, many workers don’t think it is a work-related condition.
However, the truth is that in Minnesota, you can be eligible for workers’ comp if:
- You cannot work because of your illness, and;
- You contracted your illness due to your job
Every Minnesota employer must provide workers’ compensation insurance to employees, including part-time workers and workers who are not U.S. citizens.
Are you scared to pursue benefits?
Do you feel threatened by your employer? Are you worried that you will get fired for applying for workers’ compensation benefits?
This fear is understandable, but the law says employers are not allowed to punish employees for seeking benefits. Further, they cannot discriminate against you for filing a claim.
The law also requires these employers to provide a safe workplace. An employer who breaks these laws can face lawsuits for violating your rights.
Sometimes, people hesitate to pursue benefits because they don’t understand the process or are worried their claim will be denied. But legal resources are in place to help you navigate the application process so you can avoid costly mistakes and oversights.
Other legal options to consider
Whether you pursue workers’ compensation benefits or not, understand that these are the not only types of legal claims you can file after getting hurt or sick on a meatpacking job.
For instance, you could pursue damages from a personal injury lawsuit. This option can be worth considering if:
- Your employer or the government denied your request for benefits
- You were in unsafe working conditions
- A party’s negligence caused your illness or injury
You can talk to an attorney if you need help or have questions about your options. The legal system can be complicated and intimidating. However, that should not jeopardize the money and benefits you may deserve.