The short answer is no, you cannot lose your job while on workers’ compensation, but as an at-will employee, your employer can fire you for other reasons. If your employer chooses to terminate your employment, it must be for legitimate reasons and they must be ready to prove that the reasons have nothing to do with your workers’ compensation.
Chances are you are employed at-will, which according to the Legal Information Institute (LII), means that your employer may terminate you at any time without warning, reason, or explanation. This also means that as the employee, you can quit for any reason or no reason. Also, your employer can fire you for reasons that have nothing to do with your workers’ compensation. That said, you can lose your job for reasons that include:
- Company restructuring
- Conducting personal business during working hours
- Violating company policies
- Possession of alcohol and illicit drugs at work
- Fraud, stealing, and engaging in other unethical activities
- Financial issues
- Poor or insufficient job performance
- Defunct job position
- Unethical conduct, such as sexual harassment, abuse of power, et cetera.
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Losing Your Job While on Workers’ Compensation Without Probable Cause
Let us explore the possible ways you could be terminated from work while on workers’ compensation.
If you lose your job and suspect that being on workers’ compensation is the reason, even though your employer says otherwise, you should consult a workers’ compensation lawyer immediately. If your lawyer investigates the situation and discovers that your employer fired you for reporting that you were injured at work, filing workers’ compensation claim, or receiving workers’ compensation benefits, you have the grounds to sue your employer for discrimination. This illegal situation is a retaliatory termination.
Returning to Work on Restrictions and Getting Fired
If your doctor examines you and believes that you have reached suitable medical improvement, they can give you the clearance to return to work. In this case, since you are still in recovery, your doctor will provide you with restrictions detailing the activities you can perform while on the job. Your employer, once they choose to allow you to return to work, must provide you with a role that abides by the restrictions. This role could be in the form of a lower-level job, part-time work, or modifying your previous role to accommodate your disability. If you return to work with restrictions and are fired subsequently for suspicious reasons, consider speaking with a lawyer.
Your Workers’ Compensation Benefits if You Are Fired
The weekly payouts are a portion of your average weekly wage to help you pay for your expenses since you can only work in a limited capacity or not at all. If you were already receiving disability benefits before your termination, you will continue to receive coverage until you make a full recovery. Typically, being laid off does not affect your right to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
How to Document Discrimination at Work
If your employer fired you while on workers’ compensation, you need to provide proof of discrimination if you intend to take legal action against them. Below you will find an effective way to collect evidence and build a case against your employer.
Record Discriminatory Events
To preserve the details of such events, write it down while it is still fresh in your memory. Record:
- The date the discrimination happened, or every time it occurs.
- Name everyone involved, add to your list what they did and what they said.
- Note their reason for the discrimination.
- Note what you believe is the real reason for the discrimination.
- How the discrimination affected you e.g., emotional trauma, et cetera.
- Review emails, messages, work memos, or even deleted communication for additional evidence of discrimination.
Check if There Were Witnesses
If a colleague or anyone in your workplace witnessed or heard the discriminatory incident, speak to them, and ask them for their account of what happened. If it backs up your notes on the discriminatory event, ask them if they would be happy to support your claims at a later date. When you hire a workers’ compensation lawyer, they will review the witnesses’ accounts and interview them. Where necessary, and if they consent, they can testify in court on your behalf.
Gearing Up To Take Legal Action
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), you first have to file a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC if you are alleging discrimination on the basis of disability. A charge of discrimination is a signed statement informing the EEOC that your employer has engaged in employment discrimination. When the EEOC completes its investigation, you will receive a Notice of Right to Sue, giving you permission to file a lawsuit against your employer in federal or state court. Once you receive the Notice of Right to Sue, you have 90 days to bring a lawsuit against your employer. Failure to file in time can prevent your lawsuit from moving forward. If you are unsure about how to handle this step, we recommend that you hire a lawyer to help you navigate your claims.
Hiring a Lawyer
If you believe your employer fired you for reporting a workplace injury, filing a workers’ compensation claim, or receiving disability benefits, consider hiring a lawyer immediately. The sooner you act, the sooner they can investigate your claims and fight against your discrimination and hold your employer responsible for their actions.
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Bader Scott Injury Lawyers at Your Service
If your employer fired you while on workers’ compensation and you believe it was a retaliatory termination or discriminatory, we encourage you to hire us to represent you in your litigation against your employer. As one of the leading law firms in Atlanta, we have what it takes to protect your rights, fight for a favorable outcome, and answer your burning questions about what happens if you lose your job while on workers’ compensation. If you would like to learn more about how we can help, contact us today at (404) 888-8888 to discuss your concerns with a member of our team in a free consultation.