Getting hurt at work under any circumstances can be devastating, especially when you have suffered a debilitating injury or occupational disease. The whole situation can become much worse if your employer informs you that there is no workers’ compensation insurance coverage to pay for your medical care or lost wages.
If you report an injury to an employer and are informed that the employer does not have workers’ compensation coverage, you should know that there are very few employers who are exempt from workers’ compensation coverage requirements; most employers in Ohio need to have this type of coverage.
I want to talk specifically about employers who tell an injured worker that they have a religious exemption from workers’ comp coverage. You might be wondering whether there is such a thing as a religious exemption to workers’ compensation coverage requirements. Such a requirement does exist under Ohio law, but it is relatively narrow in scope. Let me tell you more about how this works.
What is a Religious Exemption to Workers’ Compensation Coverage?
The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) says that an employer who “objects to the payment and acceptance of insurance benefits” due to “the tenets of their religion” can apply for a religious exemption from the workers’ compensation coverage requirement.
To be clear, the employer needs to have a clear religious objection to “accepting insurance payments resulting from injury, death, or disability.” If the BWC does grant such an exemption, it is permanent.
What type of employer would have a religious exemption to insurance? Generally speaking, this exemption applies to Amish and Mennonite employers. These religions bar insurance, and these are the religions to which this exemption under Ohio law typically applies. Several other states have a similar religious exemption that exempts Amish and Mennonite employers from purchasing workers’ compensation insurance.
This exemption does not allow an employer to discriminate against a worker based on the worker’s religion or the employer’s religion. For example, an employer cannot say that its religious beliefs are in opposition to another religion like Judaism or Islam, and therefore that workers of those religions are not covered. This is not what the exemption is for.
Moreover, an employer cannot state that she or he follows a religion that opposes insurance for the sheer purpose of avoiding purchasing workers’ compensation coverage. If that happens, an injured worker may be able to file a lawsuit against the employer for compensation.
Get in Touch with Me Today for Help with Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
There are very few types of employers who will actually qualify for the religious exemption to workers’ compensation. As I explained above, the employers for whom this type of exemption typically applies are Amish or Mennonite employers. To be clear, it is not an exemption that simply applies to any religiously affiliated employer.
If you have questions or need assistance seeking compensation for your workplace injury, I’ll Make Them Pay!® Do not hesitate to call me today at 877.944.4373 to get started on your workers’ compensation case.