Why Your Employer May Be Legally Able To Fire You After A Work Injury

Law Blog

If you file a worker's compensation claim after a workplace injury, your employer is not allowed to retaliate by terminating your employment. However, there are also cases where your employer may be legally able to fire you. Here are some of those cases:

You Are Unable To Return To Work

Your employer is not obligated to retain you if you are unable to work; in such a case, the employer is legally allowed to let you go. However, the employer must wait until you attain your maximum medical improvement (MMI) or recover fully. The MMI is the point at which your doctor (the one handling your injury) doesn't expect further improvement. Even then, the employer should first look at ways of accommodating your limited capacities at the workplace. If this isn't possible, then the employer has the right to terminate your job.

For example, if you have been paralyzed and have to use a wheelchair, and your doctor has determined that you are likely to be in your wheelchair for the rest of your life, then your employer should see if there are jobs you can do from your wheelchair. However, if the employer doesn't have such positions, then they can legally terminate your employment.

Your Contractual Situation Allows It

Your employer may also be able to use the terms of your contract to terminate your employment. After all, most contracts provide conditions under which any party can terminate it. A common provision, which employers seem to love, is one where an employer can terminate the contract if you are unable to work for a specified period of time.

As you might imagine, this can easily be the case if you are seriously injured and need a long time to recuperate. For example, if your contract specifies that you cannot be out of work for more than six months, then your employer is within their rights to let you go if you take more than six months away from work because of your injuries.

You Are an At-Will Employee

Lastly, your employer may also have the legal right to fire you if you are an "at-will" employee. At-will employment is a situation in which the employer can terminate an employee whenever they like (no reason is even necessary), and the employee can also resign whenever they like. In the case of an injured worker, however, an employer is required to provide a reason for the termination to prove that the termination isn't connected to the worker's compensation claim.

An employment termination after a workplace injury may or may not be considered retaliation, depending on the circumstances of the case. Consult with a wrongful termination lawyer to know where your case stands.


26 April 2018

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