You might be nervous about filing a workers’ compensation claim because you do not want to lose your job, but does your employer have the right to fire you after filing a claim?
Schmidt Kramer’s experienced attorneys discuss whether employees can lose their jobs while on workers’ compensation. If you have questions about your claim, give us a call to find out how we may be able to assist you.
Our Harrisburg workers’ compensation lawyers have helped many employees secure the benefits they needed, and our services come with no upfront costs. Visit our client reviews page to see what our workers’ comp clients said about our firm.
Call us to schedule your free legal consultation: (717) 510-1770.
Can Your Employer Fire You During a Workers’ Comp Claim?
It is against the law for an employer in Pennsylvania or anywhere else in the country to terminate your employment because you filed a workers’ compensation claim.
What is Retaliatory Termination?
Your employer cannot fire you for exercising your rights under the law. This is known as retaliatory termination.
Despite the fact Pennsylvania is an at-will employment state, which means employers can fire you for no reason at all, they cannot terminate you if it violates a public policy. For example, it would be against public policy to fire an employee who exercises his or her right to seek workers’ comp benefits after suffering an injury.
It would also be illegal to fire an employee for:
- Reporting an on-the-job injury
- Reporting discrimination or harassment
- Reporting workplace safety violations
- Taking or requesting medical leave
- Helping another employee with his or her workers’ comp claim
It is important to note that firing an employee is just one form of retaliation. Others may include:
- Denying an employee a promotion
- Demoting an employee
- Denying bonuses
- Giving a negative review on an evaluation
- Threatening the employee
- Creating a hostile work environment
- Increasing surveillance of an employee
It can be difficult to prove an employer fired an employee in retaliation for a workers’ compensation claim. The timing of your firing is one of the central aspects of a retaliation case.
There may be a strong case if the employer:
- Fired the employee immediately after the claim was filed
- Fired the employee after he or she talked about filing a claim
- Fired the employee while he or she was off work because of the work-related injury
When Are Employers Allowed to Fire People on Workers’ Compensation?
There is a difference between firing an employee who filed a workers’ comp claim and firing an employee because he or she filed a claim. Your employer is within its rights to terminate your employment after you filed a workers’ comp claim or even while you are receiving benefits.
There is no law requiring your employer to hold your position open while you are unable to work. They have a business to run. If you are no longer able to do the job, or do your job with reasonable accommodations, they may be within their rights to fire you and hire someone else. The Americans with Disabilities Act makes it illegal for your employer to fire you if you can perform the essential functions of your job with reasonable accommodations.
That said, your employer needs to do its part to help you perform the essential functions of your job. This could include installing a device to help you take phone calls because you lost your hearing. It may also be possible to use technology to allow you to do your job with vision loss or visual impairment.
However, it might not be possible to do the essential functions of your job with certain injuries, such as an amputation.
Other reasons your employer could fire you include:
- Restructuring of the company
- Financial problems at the company that do not relate to your job performance
- Poor performance
What Happens to Your Workers’ Compensation Benefits if You Lose Your Job?
In most cases, you should continue receiving your benefits until you fully recover, or you recover as much as possible, and you are able to return to work. Your medical costs should also be covered by the workers’ compensation system. Your right to workers’ compensation does not cease simply because you lost your job.
If you are still disabled after reaching the point of maximum medical improvement, you may continue receiving benefit payments. You could also get the rest of this compensation via a lump sum payment.
Here are some specific examples of situations when you should still receive benefits after being fired:
- You were laid off
- You were fired without cause
- You were fired in violation of the terms of your employment contract
When Could You Lose Your Workers’ Comp Benefits After Getting Fired?
You might lose your workers’ compensation benefits after being fired if:
- You were fired with cause, such as if you committed an illegal or wrongful act
- You did not return to work after your doctor authorized you to return to work
Contact Schmidt Kramer to Discuss Your Workers’ Comp Claim
If you were injured at work and need benefits because you are unable to work the way you did before, you should strongly consider hiring a licensed attorney.
Schmidt Kramer’s experienced lawyers are ready to assist you with every step of the process. We know how to build strong cases to secure the full compensation you need during this difficult time.
We know many injured workers are concerned about the cost of an attorney, but there are no upfront fees at Schmidt Kramer. We are not paid unless you get paid.
Give us a call to learn more: (717) 510-1770.