Legal Protection Against Retaliatory Firing Improves Workplace Safety

107 Pages Posted: 12 Jun 2020 Last revised: 26 Feb 2022

See all articles by Matthew S. Johnson

Matthew S. Johnson

Duke University - Sanford School of Public Policy

Daniel Schwab

College of the Holy Cross

Patrick Koval

Opioid Prevention and Education Network at Michigan State University (OPEN-MSU)

Date Written: November 2, 2020

Abstract

Workplace safety policies are designed to ensure that employers internalize the costs of injuries, but employers can undermine these policies with threats of dismissal. We show that states' adoption of the public policy exception to at-will employment---an exception forbidding employers from firing workers for filing workers' compensation claims or for whistleblowing---led to a substantial reduction in injuries. The widespread adoption of the public policy exception explains 14 percent of the decline in fatal injury rates between 1979 and 1994. Statutory protections from retaliatory firing also improved safety, but only when employers faced sufficiently strong penalties for violating them.

Suggested Citation

Johnson, Matthew and Schwab, Daniel and Koval, Patrick, Legal Protection Against Retaliatory Firing Improves Workplace Safety (November 2, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3619384 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3619384

Matthew Johnson (Contact Author)

Duke University - Sanford School of Public Policy ( email )

201 Science Drive
Box 90312
Durham, NC 27708-0239
United States

Daniel Schwab

College of the Holy Cross ( email )

1 College Street
Worcester, MA 01610-2395
United States

Patrick Koval

Opioid Prevention and Education Network at Michigan State University (OPEN-MSU) ( email )

219 S. Harrison Road
Room 93
East Lansing, MI 48824-1022
United States
5173538977 (Phone)
5174329541 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://vistaopen.msu.edu/

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