Many employees hesitate to report a work injury as a workers’ compensation claim due to fear of retaliatory action by their employer. Some employees may attempt to use health insurance, sick days and short-term disability benefits to cover their treatment and recovery time, even though they are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
Can my employer fire me for filing a workers’ comp claim?
The answer to this question is no. It is illegal for an employer to fire an employee strictly because the employee files a workers’ compensation claim.
Can my employer fire me while I have an open workers’ compensation claim?
Because most employer/employee relationships are based on an at-will agreement (meaning that the employee can quit or the employer can terminate employment for any reason at any time), your employer could find other reasons to terminate you while your workers’ compensation claim is open. In this case, the employer may be required to show that the cause for termination was legitimately based on factors other than your worker’s compensation claim.
How do I know if I have an at-will employment?
If you aren’t sure, then you probably have an at-will agreement. If you do not have a contract that states your employment terms, including length of contract and acceptable reasons for termination, then you are most likely dealing with at-will employment.
How do I know if my termination is retaliatory?
Your employer is probably too smart to tell you that he or she is firing you because of your workers’ compensation case. Use your common sense to decide if you believe you are being terminated due to retaliatory reasons. If the cause for termination makes no sense or is based on dubious cause, gather documentation and proof that might support a case for wrongful termination.
In this type of case, you may need the assistance of an attorney familiar with employment law and workers’ compensation cases. Your attorney can help you build your case against your employer and protect your rights as a worker.
Is there any scenario where my employer can fire me legally?
Your employer cannot legally fire you for filing a workers’ compensation claim. However, once you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI), you can face termination due to inability to perform your job duties. This means that if you have recovered as fully as you ever will (according to your doctors) and you have permanent work restrictions that prevent you from returning to your job, your employer can terminate you.
However, if your employer can reasonably accommodate your restrictions and you are able to perform your job duties with these accommodations, then your employer is required to continue your employment under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Discuss any work limitations you have with your doctor and find out what accommodations might allow you to continue your employment. Be sure to discuss your options with your employer and remind him or her of their responsibilities under the ADA. If there is no way that you can return to work, you may then consider filing for permanent disability benefits under workers’ compensation.
Injured and unable to work? Get Help at Cordisco & Saile LLC in Pennsylvania
If you’ve been fired while receiving treatment under workers’ compensation, your employer could be illegally retaliating against you. Cordisco & Saile LLC can help. Call us today at 215-642-2335 to or use our online contact form to schedule your free consultation with an attorney to discuss your case.