If you were injured at work, you may be worried about filing a workers’ compensation claim. Many people avoid filing workers’ compensation claims in fear of losing their jobs. The good news is that all states prohibit employers from discriminating against employees because they were injured at work or because they filed a workers’ comp claim. The bad news is that your employer can fire you while you have an open workers’ comp claim if he/she can show there were reasons for firing you or laying you off that didn’t have to do with the filing of your claim.
What Rights Do I Have?
While an employer is unable to fire a worker for filing a compensation claim, they are able to fire the worker if there is an open claim and it can be shown that there are other reasons besides filing that the employee is being terminated. For contract employees, an employer is unable to fire an employee for a claim unless the contract contains a provision mentioning that an employee can be terminated if they are unable to work for a long period of time. For at-will employees, firing can occur due to poor job performance, restructuring, or overall layoffs. Individuals injured on the job while employed by private companies or state and local government agencies should contact their state workers’ compensation board.
How Can I Tell If I Was Fired Because of My Workers’ Compensation Claim?
In some cases, it can be difficult to tell whether your employer is, in fact, discriminating against you because of your workers’ compensation claim. However, there are a few signs you can look out for:
- The timing of the termination. The closer in time that your termination is to the filing of your claim, the more likely it is retaliatory.
- Negative comments from your supervisor or manager. If management seems upset that you filed a claim, or has pressured you to forgo your rights, your termination may be retaliatory.
- The stated reason for your termination. Were you given a clear reason that relates to your performance, the company’s financial health, or some other legitimate factor? If you’re a top performer with no history of disciplinary action, and the company is doing fine financially, your workers’ compensation claim may be the real reason for your termination.
What Can I Do If I Was Fired Due To My Workers’ Comp Claim?
If your employer terminates your employment and you suspect it is due to your workers’ compensation claim, you should try to gather evidence to prove your suspicion. Keep documentation of all evidence related to your injury and your employment, such as emails. Evidence can include statements by the employer such as:
- “don’t file a workers’ compensation claim;”
- “my workers’ compensation insurance rates will go up;”
- “you are a liability;”
- “I can’t afford to have injured workers around the workplace;” and,
- “put your claim through your health insurance and not workers’ comp.”
Contact an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today
If you believe you were wrongfully terminated, it is important to have an experienced workers’ compensation attorney on your side to protect your rights. Workers’ compensation cases can become very complicated very quickly. At Clay, Massey & Associates, we have the experience and the commitment to fight for your case’s most expedient and favorable outcome. To schedule a free consultation with our office, contact or call us at 251-433-1000 today.