Can My Employer Fire Me if I File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Filing a workers’ compensation claim can be stressful, and most people are concerned that their employer may be more likely to fire them should they file a claim. However, while your employer can fire you for making mistakes or refusing to follow company guidelines, they cannot fire you because you filed a workers’ compensation claim.
Why an Employer Cannot Fire You as Retaliation
Most workers are “at will” employees, meaning they have the right to leave their job at any time, for any reason. Similarly, your employer is likely “at will” as well, meaning they reserve the right to fire you for any or no reason at any time they desire. However, firing you as a form of discrimination or retaliation because you filed for workers’ compensation is against the law. This can be difficult to prove, as there must be sufficient evidence showing that it was not a result of your job performance or other reason separate from your workers’ comp claim.
When Can a Company Fire You During a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
While an employer cannot fire you as revenge for filing a workers’ comp claim, there are situations where they are legally allowed to let you go, including:
1. Poor Job Performance
An employer is allowed to fire you for poor job performance, especially if you had a record of this before filing for workers’ compensation. This includes things like leaving work early without permission, missing deadlines, and making mistakes.
2. Excessive Absences
If you miss work all the time, take longer than average lunch breaks, and continually show up late, then your employer has grounds to fire you.
3. Inability to Perform Your Job
Despite the fact you filed for workers’ compensation because of an injury, if the injury interferes with your ability to perform the required tasks, your employer is allowed to fire you.
However, your workplace still has to provide any accommodations necessary due to your condition. While a good employer will try to find a position more suitable to your impairments, they still have a business to run. At the end of the day, if you cannot perform tasks within reason, they have grounds to let you go.
4. If the Terms of Your Contract Have a Clause Regarding Workers’ Compensation
Many employers have their new hires sign contracts with clauses that allow them to fire anyone while they are on workers’ compensation. They may also have clauses that specify that if their employees are unable to work for a period of time, they may be eligible for termination.
If you’ve been injured on the job, it’s essential to understand if you qualify for workers’ compensation which can cover the costs of many of your medical bills and lost wages. Laws regarding workers’ compensation can be confusing and tend to vary widely from state to state. An attorney with experience handling workers’ compensation claims can significantly help to guide you through the legal process and get you the money you deserve. If you need help proving that your workplace fired you due to filing a workers’ compensation claim, finding a skilled attorney who will fight to ensure you receive the benefits you are entitled to is critical.