I see. Thank you for clarifying that for me, Andrew.
If the employer could not articulate a legitimate reason for choosing the worker who had a violation letter on their record over you, that would typically lead to a suspicion that you were retaliated against for filing a worker's comp claim, which is prohibited by state law.
State law provides employees who have suffered such retaliation
with the ability to pursue damages against the company, including lost wages
/benefits the employee incurred as a result of the retaliation.
Here is a link which summarizes NY law on this issue:
I would consult further with a local employment law
attorney about pursuing legal action against the employer under these circumstances. There is at least an inference at this point that unlawful retaliation has occurred.
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