Can You Be Terminated While on Workers’ Comp?
Being injured while working can feel like a life-altering event, especially if the injuries are serious enough to require medical care and prevent you from returning to work for a few days or longer. Fortunately, the majority of employers in the state of Indiana are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, which pays for injured workers’ medical expenses, and a portion of their lost wages, after they’ve been in a workplace accident.
But while you may take comfort in the fact that you’ll be compensated after being injured on the job, you may have worries about retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim, and may be wondering whether or not you can be terminated while out on workers’ compensation. Here’s a look into what you need to know–
What Type of Employee Are You?
The first case to ask yourself in wondering whether or not you can be terminated while out on workers’ compensation benefits is in regards to how you’re classified as an employee: Are you a contracted employee, or an at-will employee?
Most people are at-will employees, which means that they can be terminated at-will by their employers at any time, and that reason for the termination need not be provided. In order to fire a contracted employee, on the other hand, the termination must meet the terms of the contract (usually that the employer has just cause or the employee breached some element of the employment contract).
Yes, You Can Be Terminated While Out on Workers’ Compensation Benefits
If you are an at-will employee then, yes, your employer can terminate you while you are receiving workers’ compensation benefits. However, your employer cannot terminate you because you file a workers’ compensation claim or are receiving benefits. Filing a workers’ compensation claim is one of your protected rights as an employee, and your employer is legally barred from retaliating against you as such. If you believe that you have been fired because of the fact that you filed a workers’ compensation claim or/and are receiving workers’ compensation benefits, you should not hesitate to contact an attorney who can help you to explore the possibility of filing a discrimination claim.
Your Employer’s Legal Responsibilities
Not only is your employer legally barred from retaliating against you in any way, including firing you, demoting you, reducing pay, threatening or harassing you, etc., but they are also required to maintain your position until your reach MMI, or maximum medical improvement. If, at the time that you reach MMI, you have some degree of disability or impairment that requires special accommodation in the workplace, your employer is legally required to provide such accommodation to the degree that is reasonable
What If I Can’t Do My Work Anymore?
Of course, there are situations where an employee is injured to the point where, even after reaching MMI, they cannot do the same work that they did before, and may even be unable to perform any work. If your employer has attempted to reasonably accommodate for your disability and cannot do so, only then can your employer actually terminate you. (Note, remember that your employer could terminate you at any other point in the process for something unrelated to your workers’ compensation claim if you are an at-will employee).
Advice When Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Being injured in the workplace can be upsetting enough; the idea of losing your job on top of it all can be downright terrible to think about. If you are injured on the job, our Fort Wayne workers’ compensation attorneys strongly recommend keeping detailed notes of all interactions with your employer and all notable workplace incidents, even if you don’t think that your employee plans to terminate you (and certainly if you do). In the event that you are terminated and you do not believe that your termination was independent of the fact that you were injured on the job and sought workers’ compensation benefits, the documentation can help to build your case against your employer.
You’re Not Alone
When you’re injured at work, it’s important to know that you are not alone in the workers’ compensation process. At the Delventhal Law Office LLC, our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys in Fort Wayne are passionate about protecting the rights of injured workers like you, and are ready to get started on your case today. We will fight for your protected rights, including the right to your full benefit amount, and the right to be accommodated for when you return to work. Please call us today or send us a message to schedule your free consultation with our legal team.