Can You Get Fired if You Get Hurt On The Job?
I frequently get asked if an employer can fire an employee who is hurt on the job and receiving worker’s compensation benefits. Unfortunately in most states the injured worker is an employee at will, and can be hired, or fired, for any reason or no reason at all. There are consequences for the employer and insurance company however. If they fire you, its pretty hard for them to offer you light duty work. If they do offer you light duty work, you have to accept it or risk losing your temporary disability. This takes light duty work away from the insurance company’s strategy. You also can apply for unemployment AFTER you are placed at maximum medical improvement and should get it.
If you qualify, you can apply for FMLA to protect your job for up to 12 weeks. Since most people that are injured seriously are off work for longer than 12 weeks this may not offer complete protection but it is an option that requires the employer to hold your job for at least that period of time. If you think that you might qualify, talk to the HR person at your job about this option.
The insurance company would rather have your employer wait until you have your final restrictions before making a determination about whether you can return to your former job, or if a modified job with the same employer will be necessary. As I mentioned earlier, if you are offered light duty and fail to show up, your temporary benefits can be terminated (your medical benefits still can’t be terminated). It is not unusual for the employer to try and offer you a job that you don’t want, or a shift that is not convenient for you, just to say they made an effort. They may even offer a job at Goodwill or ARC if they have no light duty available. Do not quit, and do not fail to show up if the doctor has approved this return to work within your restrictions. If you have questions, talk to an attorney FIRST, not after you are already terminated.
Additionally, if you’ve been hurt at work, give me a call. Most Worker’s Compensation attorneys (myself included) will evaluate your case for free or talk with you to make sure we are a fit, all it takes is a call. Always ask your prospective lawyers how long they have worked in that area of the law; I have over 30 years of experience in this field. If you have been hurt and want someone to fight for you, call me at 303-792-5595 or submit a request using the button on the right side of the page to have someone from our office contact you.