Picture yourself in this scenario:
You have been injured three times while working in the last two years. After each injury, you have filed a workers’ compensation claim and received benefits. But when you come back to work after recovering from your third injury, your boss says something that gives you pause: “You sure seem to get injured often. It’s costing the company a lot.”
In your next annual review, will your employer try to use this as an excuse to fire you?
Your rights as an injured worker
It’s against the law to terminate someone for filing a workers’ compensation claim. The Occupational Safety and Health Act prohibits an employer from firing someone or discriminating against that person solely because that person reported an injury. If your employer does, you may be able to obtain compensation through a wrongful termination lawsuit.
When can an employer fire an injured worker?
But in the scenario described above, your employer may have a good faith reason to fire you. These are some of the ways an employer can lawfully terminate a worker who has been injured on the job:
- You willfully and regularly violated a safety rule, resulting in your injuries.
- Your willful failure to follow a safety rule put yourself or others at serious risk of injury.
- Your accidents were the result of impairment by alcohol, marijuana, or illegal drugs.
Sometimes an employer will assert that the safety violation(s) occurred months before a workplace accident and use that as the reason for termination. These types of situations often end up in hearings before administrative law judges.
If you have questions about a workers’ compensation claim, or you think that your employer is discriminating against you because you suffered a workplace injury, speak with a lawyer.