Can your boss fire you for filing a workers’ compensation claim?

When an employee gets injured on the job, they may have to rely on workers’ compensation benefits to receive the medical attention, wages and time off work needed to heal. It is illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee for reporting a job injury or filing a workers’ compensation claim by terminating their employment. This would qualify as retaliatory termination and/or discrimination, and could cost them a lawsuit.

However, the employer has the right to fire a worker during the course of their open workers’ compensation claim for reasons not related to the workers’ compensation claim itself. If this occurs, the employer must show evidence for firing a worker that is unrelated to the claim. An example of this would be if the employer is making mass layoffs.

If an employee is classified as an “at will” employee, then their employer has the right to fire them for any reason or no reason at all, just as the employee can quit for no reason or any reason. However, it is illegal for the employer to fire an at will employee for filing a worker’s compensation claim.

If a worker is a contract employee, the contract may dictate the conditions of employment and/or reasons for termination. Some contracts may stipulate that an employee can be terminated if they are unable to work for a specific amount of time, such as six months. If the worker’s long-term workers’ compensation claim exceeds the time specified in the contract, the employee might legally be able to terminate their employment.

An employer is required to keep the injured worker on until his or her medical condition has reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). If the worker has reached MMI, the employer should work with them to evaluate if they can continue to perform the same work or if they need any accommodations so that they can perform their job. An employer has the legal responsibility to do their best to accommodate a worker’s restrictions according to the Americans with Disabilities Act.

However, if an employee is unable to perform their job or if the employer is unable to accommodate their restrictions, the employer is allowed to fire the employee. Sometimes, an employer will be able to offer the worker an alternate job that they are able to perform depending on their medical condition.

If a worker is terminated during an open workers’ compensation claim, they should gather documentation of evidence related to their employment and work injury. While their employer might not be taking retaliatory measures against them for filing a claim, it is helpful to retain documentation in the case that the worker suspects employment discrimination and/or retaliation.

If you believe your employer has wrongfully terminated you for filing a workers’ compensation claim, you should contact an experienced employment attorney at Strong Advocates. We can assist you in determining your rights and legal options. We are committed to helping you get the justice you deserve.