Being injured on the job can lead to costly medical expenses and missed work days while you heal from your injury. Based on the nature and extent of your injury, you might be unable to work for days, weeks, months, or even years.
According to The Law Offices of Nathaniel F. Handsford, LLC., it is only natural to wonder what may happen when you cannot work or upon going back to work. Will you get fired while getting workers' comp benefits? Will you still have a job position to go back to? Or will your employer replace you? Here is everything you should know and have peace of mind.
Can You Be Fired While on Workers' Comp?
It is crucial to understand that it is unlawful for your employer to fire you or terminate your employment while you cannot work due to an injury and receiving workers' compensation. That is because employers are legally prohibited from retailing against you as an employee who sought workers' compensation benefits.
However, while they cannot terminate you for filing a workers' comp claim, they might fire you for other reasons while you still have an open claim. But if they choose to go down this route, they need to prove that they terminated you and that their motif is unrelated to your workers' comp claim.
So, is there any valid reason for firing you while receiving workers' compensation benefits? Technically, yes. If you are an "at will" employee, you and your employer can end your relationship anytime. That means your employer can legally fire you for any cause or no reason at all, but it can also mean you can quit for any reason or no reason.
Conversely, you can also be legally terminated in the following scenarios:
The company is restructuring
Inadequate or poor job performance
Your job position is no longer needed
Financial issues have arisen within the company that are not related to your job performance.
These are all valid reasons that your employer can use to fire you, but they may also feel inclined to fire you due to your workers' compensation claim. That is illegal, and they will not admit this to you. Under no circumstances can your employer fire you because of discrimination or retaliation.
What to Do If You Are Terminated While Receiving Workers' Comp Benefits
If you are fired while receiving workers' comp benefits and cannot return to work, and you believe that your employer's reason is your claim, it is vital to have legal representation. A workers' comp attorney could sue your employers for discrimination based on retaliatory termination.
This occurs when your employer terminates you for bringing a workers' compensation claim or even reporting your workplace injury. As mentioned, your employer may not admit to this and will do whatever it takes to avoid communicating the real reason for your job termination. After all, they know too well that retaliatory termination is illegal and represents grounds for a lawsuit against them.
Moreover, if you have been injured on the job and have not filed a workers' comp claim because you fear that your employer might fire or retaliate against you, you must not let that fear stop you from seeking the benefits you lawfully deserve. If your employer does fire you, and you can prove that it was not due to your job performance or another reason unrelated to your claim, you might be able to sue them for discrimination or retaliation successfully.