Can My Employer Fire Me For Filing For Workers’ Comp?
This is a question we are frequently asked. To be legalistic and technical, the answer is no. But in truth, no employer that intends to fire you for filing a workers’ compensation claim is going to call you in and say: “We are firing you because you filed a workers’ compensation claim.”
If you are injured on the job, you have a right to certain benefits through workers’ compensation. You are entitled to any and all medical care to treat your injury. If you lose money due to your injury, you are entitled to weekly benefits. These rights are no different than the rights that you have to be paid for your time and to be treated fairly in the workplace.
When people are afraid of being fired for filing a workers’ compensation claim, it is because their employer has projected a negative attitude about injuries and claims. Some companies tie management bonuses to the number and kind of injuries that occur under management’s watch. The result of this type of bonus is management tries to avoid reporting injuries and tries to keep treatment and payment for injuries as low as possible. Your rights are being taken away because to management a bonus is more important than the rights of an injured worker. If this is the attitude of your employer, then you need to file a claim to protect yourself, since you will not be provided protection through the company. If this is your company’s attitude, then you will also need an attorney since there will be fights over basic rights.
Over the many years that we have represented injured workers we have seen many examples of mistreatment of the injured. Often management and the company blame the injured worker for his injury when the fault lies with defective equipment or a badly designed workplace. We represented a worker who suffered a severe injury to his foot when he was run over by a forklift being driven by an inadequately trained driver who had been backing up in a community warehouse. The warehouse did not have designated walkways for people to keep the forklifts separate from where people were walking and working. Shortly after we were hired, we secured an OSHA investigation which confirmed the employer’s failures.
In addition to handling our client’s workers’ compensation claim, we filed suit against the warehouse operator and the untrained forklift driver. Not surprisingly, the company tried to blame our client. Due to the severity of his injuries, we also secured social security benefits for our client. Our client benefited from the added income from his social security and received a very large confidential settlement for his personal injuries.