It’s difficult to focus on recovery when your job is in jeopardy.
In this article, we answer the question, “Can you be fired while on workers comp?”
Many employees who become injured in a work related accident find themselves unable to complete their regular job duties. As a result, they are either put to work in a different capacity or forced to stay home until they have recovered.
But if this has happened to you, you know that sitting at home watching daytime television is not always the paradise it’s cracked up to be. Mounting bills, difficulty getting around, and a heavy dose of stress may even have you itching to get back to work again.
In fact, you may be very busy asking yourself, “Am I going to be fired for this?”
Unfortunately, this question prevents many people from informing their employers of workplace injuries or filing for workers comp benefits because they’re afraid of losing their jobs.
This begs the question: Can you be fired while on workers comp? Stick with us as we explore the answer.
CAN YOU BE FIRED WHILE ON WORKERS COMP?
Yes and no.
Legally, you cannot be fired for filing a workers’ comp claim. Workers compensation laws were designed to protect employees from unsafe working conditions and provide them with a means of financial stability and medical care in the event of an accident.
In fact, the program was designed specifically so that workers would not have to fear losing their jobs if they became injured in the line of duty. However, this doesn’t mean that your employer cannot terminate your employment during your workers comp claim.
Most employees in Florida work under “at-will” employment. This means that the employee can resign from their job at any time, for any reason (or no reason). It also means that employers can terminate their employees for any (legal) reason or no reason at all.
You can be still be terminated or laid off for a variety of other reasons, including:
- Poor work performance
- Company financial problems
- Company restructuring
- Any other legal reason
If any of these conditions are met, there are no laws preventing you from getting fired while on workers’ compensation. (If you were terminated due to conditions outside your control, you may even be eligible to receive unemployment as well as workers comp benefits.)
Legally, however, your employer can’t fire you because you filed for workers’ comp.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I GET FIRED WHILE ON WORKERS COMP?
The workers’ comp program was designed to act as a safety net in the event of a serious work related injury. But what happens if you’re (legally) fired while on workers comp? Will your safety net disappear?
Fortunately, even if you are terminated, you are still able to collect workers compensation benefits until you have recovered or reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). (MMI is the point at which further recovery cannot be expected.)
It is possible for you to continue to receive reimbursement for lost wages if you are laid off, but this does not apply if you were terminated for misconduct.
Injured at Work In Florida?
Can You Quit Your Job While On Workers Comp?
It’s one thing to be fired while on workers comp, but what happens if you quit your job while on workers comp?
Fortunately, you will still be eligible for medical care regardless of your work status. However, quitting or resigning from your position could affect your claim to lost wages.
If your workplace injury prevents you from returning to work (and collecting a paycheck), it is likely you are going to have trouble finding ways to pay your other bills (such as housing, food, and transportation). It’s best to wait until after your claim has been settled or you reach Maximum Medical Improvement to quit your job.
ACCOMMODATING WORK RESTRICTIONS
In some cases, your doctor might clear you to return to work but provide you with certain restrictions. What happens if your employer cannot accommodate those restrictions?
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, your employer is required to make reasonable efforts to comply with your new physical needs if you were injured on the job. This may involve making accommodations within your current position or even offering you a light-duty position with less vigorous physical requirements.
However, there may be occasions when your employer is unable to accommodate these restrictions. In this case, you would be excused from work and collect 80% of 80% of your average weekly wage.
Again, even if your authorized physician expects you to make a full and complete recovery, your employer is still legally allowed to replace you while you are recovering from a work related injury.
For example, they might be unwilling to be understaffed while waiting for you to recover or they might realize they can manage just fine without you.
If your employer retaliates against you for filing a workers comp claim by letting you go, you have the legal right to bring them to court for unlawful termination (this includes being fired after a workers comp settlement). However, because Florida is an “at-will” employment state, it can be very difficult to prove that your termination was revenge for filing a claim and not another (more innocent) reason.
If you have reason to suspect that you were fired while on workers’ comp simply because you were on workers’ comp, it’s important to gather as much evidence as possible to support your claim.
Document all communication between you and your employer regarding your workers’ compensation claim so an attorney can review it and advise you on next steps.
LET US HELP YOU WITH YOUR WORKERS’ COMP CLAIM
Can you be fired while on workers comp? Yes, but it’s very important to examine the evidence you have for why you were fired.
If you have good reason to believe you were terminated in retaliation for filing a workers comp claim, make sure to keep detailed records, copies of email conversations, and anything else that could help support your case. Then, reach out to a workers compensation attorney to find out if your termination was legal.
At The Law Office of Brian D. Tadros, our focus is on solely on injured workers just like you. After a workplace injury, you deserve the same level of representation and guidance that your employer and their insurance company have.
If you feel that you were fired (or are about to be fired) for filing a claim, this is the perfect opportunity to hire a workers comp attorney.
Contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation. We’re happy to review your case, answer your questions, and help you decide on the next steps.