Can I Get Fired if Injured on the Job?

Successfully filing a workers’ compensation claim can provide essential financial support after you’ve been injured on the job. However, an approved workers’ comp claim doesn’t necessarily mean that your job is guaranteed to be there for you when you return. Federal and state legislation prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals with disabilities, and it also prevents employers from retaliating against employees who file for workers’ compensation. Nevertheless, it is still legal for an employer to fire an injured employee in certain situations.

Reason for Termination

The most important factor to consider is why an employer has fired an employee.

Legislation prevents employers from firing employees solely because of an injury. It is also illegal for an employer to fire an injured employee because he or she has filed for a workers’ compensation claim, or is on medical leave after obtaining a workers’ compensation settlement. It is also considered illegal retaliation if the employer insults, harasses, or harms an injured employee for these reasons.

An employee who works on a contract basis may not have the same legal protections as full-time or part-time workers. Some employers require contract workers to sign agreements that include termination in the event of an injury. While this is not always the case for contract work, it may be applicable in certain situations.

It is also important to remember that these rules only pertain to employees who are injured at work or during a work-related task. If an employee sustains an injury outside of the workplace and must take time off to recover, he or she might not have the same amount of legal protection in the workplace.

When Termination Might Be Legal

While workers’ compensation legislation protects workers from retaliation and discrimination, it does not require employers to give special treatment to workers who are injured on the job. If the employer fires an employee for a reason that is unrelated to the injury, it would likely be legal. This could include an employee who is fired for poor performance — regardless of the injury — or an employee who is laid off due to job cuts that occurred during the employee’s time off.

When It Is Difficult To Prove an Illegal Termination

A respectable employer would likely honor workers’ legal rights and abide by the rules to treat employees fairly. However, a less reputable employer, or one who is strapped for money, might use other excuses to “legally” fire an employee who is injured.

Some employers have also been known to put an undue burden on an injured employee, hoping that he or she will resign. If an injured employee willingly resigns, this would absolve the employer of any legal wrongdoing while still saving money for the company.

Of course, it is still illegal for an employer to put this pressure on an injured worker. But because it can be hard to prove that an employer intended to get the employee to quit, or that the employer willfully placed unreasonable burdens on the employee, it is not always easy for an injured worker to prove wrongdoing.

If you believe that you’ve been treated unfairly after being injured at work, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Contact a lawyer today to speak more about your case and to determine if your situation justifies financial damages.