Being fired after a work injury is often a debilitating situation to deal with. Not only is there the immediate loss of income due to the time lost at work from the injury, there is also the income lost during the period of time required to find new employment. In some instances, there are legal ramifications for the employer should they decide to fire you due to an injury incurred while at work. By reviewing the intricate details surrounding the injury and the reasons for the firing decision, it should be possible to decide whether the dismissal was correct from a legal standpoint.
Employer Operational Capacity
For certain employers that have a limited budget and an operational necessity for the position, they are technically in the legal right to terminate an injured employee since they must immediately fill the vacancy to remain in business. For example, a small restaurant with a small staff may be unable to operate at full capacity if the injured worker’s position is not filled immediately. Even after the injury is healed, the replacement worker now has the right to the job unless it was explicitly stated that the position was temporary until the other employee could return to work.
According to Chron, “Unless you are under contract to your employer, he can fire you for most any reason at any time. He cannot fire you to punish you for filing a workers’ compensation claim. However, if you sustained your injury during an activity that goes against written policy, your employer can terminate your employment after your doctor releases you to return to work.”
On the other hand, some employers do wrongfully terminate an employee specifically due to discrimination against injured workers. According to Chron,”Claims against workers’ compensation policies can cause your employer’s premiums to increase. This and fear of further claims can cause some employers to discriminate against injured workers or terminate them, according to the Stuart Tinley Law Firm. If you can prove that your employer fired you or discriminated against you because of a work injury, you can file a civil lawsuit against your employer.” This type of dismissal is often termed a “retaliatory discharge.” If you suspect that you may have been wrongfully terminated, don’t hesitate to contact an attorney as soon as possible for a consultation.
Document All Communication
Document all of your communication with both the employer and the doctor that treated you. In some cases, unsafe working conditions which lead to the injury may qualify you for compensation that covers your period of unemployment. A case may be viable if a lawyer can prove that you were exposed to risky work conditions based upon direct employer neglect. Criminal neglect is even a possible charge filed upon the owner of the business if the neglect is purposefully conducted. If you observe unsafe working situations or conditions in your workplace, make sure to address them directly with upper management. If nothing is done to remediate the observed situations, you are well within your rights to photograph, videotape or otherwise document evidence and file a report.
History of Injury
Every time there is an injury at the workplace, it showcases the potential for unsafe working conditions. Should there exist a record of injuries incurred, you may have the necessary evidence to provide testimony for a lawsuit. After your injury, take the time to review previous injury reports to ascertain the possibility of developing a case. The more evidence you can collect on the history of injuries, the higher the chances of a successful case.
Take the time to contact us at Meshbesher Law Firm if you have any questions about the actions you should take after termination due to a work injury.