Many employees avoid reporting workplace injuries for fear of losing their jobs. In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that half of workplace injuries go unreported. Rather than file for workers’ compensation benefits, these employees will use their health insurance to visit the doctor and take a vacation or sick days to recover, if necessary. Not only is this an abuse of your hard earned benefits, but many doctors’ offices also screen for workplace accidents and may refuse to treat you without going through workers’ compensation.
Can I be fired while recovering from a workplace injury?
California law prohibits employers from firing employees because they file a workers’ compensation claim. However, employers are not required to keep an employee’s job open while he or she is unable to work. In the best scenario, your employer will allow you to return to your former position and accommodate any restrictions you may have. Or, at the very least, offer you work in a similar role.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. If your employer needs to fill your position immediately, he or she may not make an effort to bring you back.
While this may seem unfair, it’s important to consider that California is an “employment at will” state. This means your employer can terminate your employment for any legal reason or no reason at all. In other words, workers’ compensation doesn’t offer job protection. It does, however, provide financial security should you get laid off during your recovery.
What happens if I’m fired after a workplace injury?
Receiving the news that you’ve been let go while recovering from a workplace injury makes a difficult situation even worse. Not only are you in pain, but you’re also unable to look for a new job due to your limited mobility. The good news is that you will still receive workers’ compensation benefits through your old job even though you are no longer employed.
If you return to work with restrictions and are then laid off, the insurance company should reinstate your wage loss benefits immediately. Even if your former company does a major layoff or goes out of business, you will continue receiving workers’ compensation wage loss benefits until you find new employment.
Were you fired after being injured on the job?
If you were fired after a workplace injury, it’s unlikely your employer would tell you that the termination was related to your filing a workers’ compensation claim. This is called retaliatory termination, and your employer knows his or her actions would likely lead to a discrimination lawsuit. However, if you do suspect the events are related, it’s important to call a workers’ compensation attorney who can help you gather evidence to support your case.
At the Law Office of Gerald Brody & Associates, our attorneys have decades of experience defending the rights of injured workers and handling retaliatory termination cases. Over the years, we’ve seen it all. While many employers make an honest effort to hold an injured worker’s job after a workplace accident, it’s not unheard of for a disgruntled employer to unlawfully terminate injured employees.
An employer who is found guilty of retaliatory termination is usually charged with a misdemeanor, and the injured worker is entitled to a 50 percent increase in workers’ compensation benefits. We consider it our job to hold dishonest employers accountable and to get you the maximum compensation you deserve. Ready to see what we can do for you? Contact us today at (619) 528-9800 to schedule your free consultation.