If you have been injured on the job, and you are concerned that you will lose your job if you file a workers’ compensation claim, you should know that your employer cannot legally fire you for that reason. You are entitled to seek compensation for your injury, and if you are fired (or otherwise punished) just because you filed for workers’ compensation, you can take your employer to court.
You Are Protected Under the Law
Most employees in the United States are “at-will” employees. If you are an at-will employee, this means that your employer can fire you without giving you a reason for your dismissal. It also means that they can fire you for any reason…with some exceptions. One major exception is that it is illegal for an employer to fire someone for filing for workers’ compensation.
Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that provides money and/or medical care for workers who are injured on the job. Not all employers have workers’ compensation policies, but there are federal and state laws that require many employers to maintain them. A worker who is injured on the job has a right to file a workers’ compensation claim, and it is illegal for an employer to retaliate against a worker merely for filing a claim. It is also illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee for reporting unsafe working conditions.
However, it is important to understand that there are situations where an employer can legally fire a worker for reasons related to a workplace injury. If you have been injured on the job, your employer cannot fire you just because you filed a workers’ compensation claim – but they may be able to fire you if six months have passed since the accident, and you are still unable to do your job.
Do Employers Ever Break These Laws?
There are times when employers violate the law by firing an employee merely for seeking workers’ compensation – and they rarely come out and admit what they are doing. Most employers know that they could get into considerable trouble if they are caught firing an employee for filing a claim, so it is common for them to pretend that they are firing the employee for a different reason.
If this happens, however, it does not mean that they are guaranteed to get away with it. If you can prove that you were fired for filing a claim, then you may be able to sue your employer for money damages.
What Should I Do Next?
If you have been injured on the job, and you are wondering if you should file a claim for workers’ compensation, it is extremely important that you act quickly. Generally, an employee must give written and/or oral notice to his or her employer within 30 days of a workplace injury in order to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. There are some circumstances in which a claim may be allowed after the 30-day period is over, but it is always best to file before the 30 days are over.
If you are considering filing a workers’ compensation claim – or if you have filed a claim, and you believe that you have been subjected to illegal retaliation – you should speak to an attorney to determine what your rights are. Paul Giannetti, an Albany, New York workers’ compensation attorney, has years of experience handling these types of cases. You can the office at (866) 868-2960, or reach out online and schedule a free consultation.