One of the benefits of being employed in the United States is the legal
requirement that employers have to protect their employees from injuries.
Under workers' compensation laws, an employee who is injured on the
job must report that injury, request medical care, and file for workers'
compensation. Once these steps are completed, workers' compensation
provides the employee with reimbursement for medical treatment, disability
payments, and the cost of rehabilitation. With a worker off the job and
the cost of carrying workers' compensation insurance to cover their
injuries, what prevents employers from firing employees that have filed
claims? Even further, can a worker who has hired an attorney be fired?
Will a worker be fired for a compensation claim?
Workers have rights, and one of those rights is that an employer provides
a reasonably safe place for them to work. Even in traditionally dangerous
occupations, a worker should not be denied compensation for their injuries
if they occur on the job. Even if an injury is so terrible that an employee
needs significant medical care and rehabilitation, an employer has a responsibility
to that worker. However, while an employer is unable to fire a worker
for filing a compensation claim, they are able to fire the worker if there
is an open claim and it can be shown that there are other reasons besides
filing that the employee is being terminated.
For contracted employees, an employer is unable to fire an employee for
a claim unless the contract contains a provision mentioning that an employee
can be terminated if they are unable to work for a long period of time.
For at-will employees, firing can occur due to poor job performance, restructuring,
or overall layoffs.
If an employee believes that an employer is terminating them due to a claim,
- Gather medical evidence that shows when maximum medical improvement will
occur since employers must keep an employee until that threshold is met
- Show whether reasonable efforts were made to accommodate work restrictions
that may apply as a direct result of the workplace accident
- Determining whether workers' compensation benefits apply to the case
Any employee that believes that they are being fired from their place of
work due to a workers' compensation claim should immediately consult
with their attorney. While it is possible for a worker to get fired over
a claim, it is extremely rare to do so. Even with the assistance of an
attorney, an employee cannot be terminated unless there is an unrelated
cause for them to do so, otherwise, the wrongfully terminated worker could
bring an additional claim against them.