Can My Employer Discriminate Against Me For Filing A Workers Compensation Claim?
If an employer faces too many workers’ compensation claims, their insurance premiums will likely go up. Your employer has incentive to provide safe working conditions so that staffers do not experience many work-related injuries.
Yet work-related injuries are inevitable, which is why nearly all states require employers to hold workers’ compensation insurance. If you are injured in the course of your work and arising from your work responsibilities, you are likely entitled to some compensation for medical costs and lost wages, as a lawyer such as a discrimination lawyer from a law firm such as Eric Siegel Law can explain.
Still, many workers fear that they might lose their jobs if they file a workers’ compensation claim. Fortunately, by law, your employer is not allowed to fire you because of your worker’s compensation claim. However, if they can show reasons for your termination that do not have to do with filing the claim, they can still fire you. Here are some of the factors involved.
Type of Employment
If you are an at-will employee, your employer can terminate your employment at any time and for any legal reason, such as poor performance, restructuring, or layoffs. Similarly, you can resign from your job at any time for any reason, or no reason.
Since it is illegal to fire you as retaliation for a workers’ compensation claim, your employer probably would not tell you that this is a reason for your termination. There has to be another legal reason for your termination.
If you are a contract employee, your contact will list specific reasons your employer can end your contract. For example, your contract might state that your employer could terminate the contract if you were unable to work for a period of time. If you face long-term workers’ compensation for longer than this stated time, it may be legal to end your contract.
Many states use the term “maximum medical improvement” or MMI to describe the point when your condition is not likely to improve further. Your employer cannot terminate you during your workers’ compensation claim until you either fully recover or reach MMI.
If you reach MMI and still have permanent work restrictions, you need to discuss these conditions with your employer. Per the Americans with Disabilities Act, if they can make reasonable accommodations so you can continue to work, they must do so. Your employer may choose to offer you alternative work with less physical requirements.
You may be eligible for additional workers’ compensation benefits if you are unable to return to your job, including retraining for a new career or a pension through disability benefits.
If you believe you are facing discrimination because of a workers’ compensation claim, you should talk with an experienced workers’ discrimination lawyer in your area as soon as possible.