• Can You Be Fired After Sustaining a Workplace Injury?

    workplace injuryYou’ve been hurt at work. Maybe it was a construction site injury that landed you in the hospital, unable to return to the job until you’re fully recovered. Maybe it’s a repetitive stress injury caused by poor workplace ergonomics, and your physician has ordered several weeks of rest. If you’re worried about being fired because you can’t go back to work, you’re not alone. Many employees worry that if they file for workers’ compensation after a workplace injury and tell their boss they can’t go back to work until they recuperate, they’ll end up losing their job.

    Workers who file for workers’ compensation are protected against retaliation, but that is not the same as saying that it’s illegal for you to be fired after a workplace injury. Your company cannot fire you for availing yourself of workers’ compensation benefits. However, if you are receiving workers’ compensation benefits, whether that means being compensated for your medical expenses or you’re recuperating and receiving payment to make up for lost wages, you can still be fired for cause and you can still be laid off, in the same way, that you could have if you hadn’t been hurt. Workers’ compensation does not shield you or provide you with a level of protection that is not available to your co-workers.

    Once your doctor says you can return to light duty, your employer is expected to make reasonable accommodations to allow you to go back to your job.

    It is also important to remember that your employer has the right to investigate how your injury occurred, and if it turns out that you were hurt as a result of doing something illegal or against your company’s internal policies, you can be fired for cause, regardless of whether you were injured and filed a workers’ compensation claim or not. In fact, if that is how your injury happened, it is unlikely that you will be eligible for benefits.

    It is also important to understand that if you suffer a workplace injury receive workers’ compensation and benefits, and despite being cleared by your physician you tell your employer that you’re no longer able to perform your job, the company is within its rights to terminate your employment.

    The legal issues surrounding workplace injuries can be extremely complex, and very upsetting. For legal guidance and representation, contact our office today.

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