Have you been fired or demoted for making a compensation claim for an injury you sustained while working? Well, this is considered to be retaliation on the part of the employer as it violates public policy. In such an eventuality, our workers’ compensation lawyer can help you file a wrongful termination lawsuit.
Although employees in all states are required by law to provide a reasonably safe work environment, workplace-related injuries are rather common. About 2.8 million employees incurred a workplace-related injury or illness in 2019 alone.
Get to know your legal options when you are injured on the job and then fired—including the right to file a workers’ compensation claim.
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation (comp) is essentially insurance that gives employees medical benefits and wage replacement if they are injured on the job. The cover offers all these in exchange for the relinquishment of your right to sue your employer for any tort of negligence.
The compensation plan acts as a safety net for employees who have been injured at work—covering them against the loss of income as they recuperate. As an employee, you are eligible for workers’ compensation at the start of your employment.
Compensation benefits for employees injured on the job are usually calculated based on the employee’s weekly wage. With a good workers’ compensation attorney representing you, you can get up to 2/3 of your weekly income in compensation benefits.
What Are Your Rights If You Are Injured at Work?
Workers’ compensation laws vary slightly from one state to another. Even so, you have the following rights if you get injured at work:
- Right to a compensation hearing
- Right to file a claim for your illness or injury in a workers’ compensation court or at the state industrial court
- Right to get all the compensation benefits that you are entitled to
- Right to see a doctor and get appropriate medical treatment for the work-related injury you sustained
- Right to get the appropriate disability compensation if your work-related injury is preventing you from returning to work—either temporarily or permanently
- Right to be represented by a lawyer
- Right to appeal your compensation claim denial
What are Your Rights Against Harassment and Coercion involving Workers’ Comp?
You also have the right to say no to certain offers and requests that are meant to dissuade you from filing a workers’ comp claim. This can help you avoid intimidation and harassment by the employer when filing a workplace injury claim
For instance, your employer may encourage you to use your health insurance to cover your medical expenses instead of making a workers’ compensation claim. In such a case, you have the right to refuse.
Regardless of the state you are in, workers’ compensation laws allow you to pursue an at-work injury claim without facing employers harassment or reprisal. In this regard, you can sue your employer if they fire you for getting hurt on the job.
When Can Workers’ Benefits Be Denied?
Firing after a work-related injury is often not justified. However, there are instances when the firing is justified. If you were injured on the job and then fired, the court will consider when you were fired and why to ascertain whether the firing was justified.
If they find the firing to be justified—for a cause—they will either deny or suspend your claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Your firing after a work-related injury may be justified or for a cause if:
- The work injury was caused by misuse of company equipment
- Your alcohol or drugs test was positive shortly after the work accident
- You argue with or are disrespectful to your supervisor or boss
- You were undertaking in horseplay or doing your personal activities at the workplace at the time of the injury
- You refuse to carry out the light-duty work as approved by your physician
When is Firing After a Work-Related Injury Unjustified?
If you were fired for any of the following reasons, the layoff may be ruled to be unjustified:
- Filling a claim for workers’ compensation benefits
- Reporting a work accident
- Hiring a workers’ compensation attorney
- Refusing to do tasks that are heavier than recommended by your physician
- Missing work with an excuse from your physician
If you were fired after receiving the comp benefits, it is less likely that the benefits will be affected.
Is There Recourse for Being Fired for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Yes, there is. An employer firing you just because you filed a compensation claim is considered to be an act of retaliation. Retaliation is unlawful under both state and federal law. As such, you can file a lawsuit against the employer if they violate this law by firing you.
Schedule a meeting with the Hines Law Firm to learn more about wrongful termination and what you can do about it.
What about At-Will Employees?
At-will employees can also file suit against the employer for wrongful termination if they were fired for filing a workers’ compensation claim. Although at-will employees may quit or be terminated at any time and for almost any reason, there are laws in place to safeguard them from unlawful termination.
For the termination to be justified, in this case, the employer must have a legal reason for the layoff or discharge. In most states, firing at-will employees is considered to be unlawful if it:
- Violates an implied covenant of fair dealing and good faith
- Is in violation of an implied continued employment contract
- Does not conform to public policy
- Emanated from the employer’s misrepresentation or fraud
You have a legal right to file a workers’ compensation claim. Getting fired for doing this is contrary to public policy.
I was Injured on the Job and then Fired. What Benefits Do I Qualify for?
On average, workers’ compensation settlement ranges between $41,000 and $78,500. Different states allow for the compensation of different damages following a wrongful termination due to work injury.
However, you could recover the following:
- Job reinstatement
- Back pay
- Workers’ compensation, especially if the firing affected the claim
- Attorney’s fees
Workers’ compensation laws in some states offer employees more benefits. For instance, California adds a penalty to the compensation benefits.
What is the Law in Georgia?
It is illegal to dismiss an employee for being injured on the job, reporting the injury, or filing a workers’ compensation claim. Firing an employee for any of these in the state of Georgia is considered to be a wrongful termination in retaliation.
If you believe that your employer fired you in retaliation, the law in Florida allows you to file a claim against them.
Have you been demoted, suspended, or even fired for filing a workers’ compensation claim? You need to submit a written complaint to the Commissioner of Labor under the Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act (REDA) within 180 days.
Only after filing the complaint will you have the right to sue your employer for wrongful termination. Schedule a free legal consultation with us to gain a better understanding of your rights under workers’ compensation and successfully claim your benefits.