It’s not unheard of for disabled employees to get terminated while on workers’ compensation. But is it legal? The short answer is yes, it can be. But it’s not as straightforward as it sounds.
Your employer cannot fire you for filing a workers’ compensation claim. But they can terminate you for any other reason allowed by law, even while you’re receiving workers’ compensation. There’s usually a fine line separating these two, which some employers use to their advantage.
Remember that our laws give equal protection to the employer and the employee. Employers can fire their workers for any reason they deem fit. Similarly, employees can leave their jobs for whatever reason. But both must do so without infringing on the rights of the other.
WHAT IS CONSIDERED ILLEGAL TERMINATION?
If you are on temporary disability, your doctor usually allows you to return to work even if you haven’t fully recovered. Provided, however, that you don’t do anything that might jeopardize your recovery. This is referred to as “returning to work with restrictions.”
According to the American Disabilities Act, employers with 15 or more employees should make reasonable efforts to accommodate their disabled worker’s restrictions. They need to make workplace adjustments to allow them to do their job to the same extent as their abled coworkers.
For example, they can reduce your weekly work hours from 40 to 20. Or install wheelchair ramps so you can pass through stairs without needing assistance.
If your employer fired you for incompetence without reasonable accommodation, that is considered illegal termination.
Certain employees are also entitled to a 12-week job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). If you qualify for FMLA but still get terminated, you can file for reinstatement or claim damages from your employer.
Some employers also fire employees to avoid paying workers compensation. But it’s important to note that your workers’ compensation benefits should continue even if you are terminated. Your termination will not affect your benefits unless you’re fired for grave misconduct.
If your employer fired you and withheld your workers’ compensation, you can file legal actions against them.
CONSEQUENCES OF ILLEGAL TERMINATION
Wrongful termination of an employee can leave the business open to legal action, regardless of whether said employee is receiving workers’ compensation.
Among the legal consequences businesses can face are:
- payment for lost wages as ordered by the court
- statutory fines and penalties
- reimbursement of expenses
In some extreme cases, the court may also order the closure of the business.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I GET FIRED WHILE ON WORKERS’ COMP?
If you are fired while on workers’ compensation, it can have various consequences. Here’s what typically happens:
- Getting fired while on workers’ comp typically leads to the termination of wage replacement and medical benefits.
- Being fired while on workers’ compensation doesn’t automatically remove your entitlement to benefits.
- Wrongfully terminated employees may be allowed to pursue legal action against their employer.
- Employers must provide valid reasons for termination unrelated to the workers’ compensation claim.
- While job protection exists for workers on comp, termination can still happen for reasons unrelated to the claim.
CAN YOU COLLECT WORKERS’ COMP AFTER BEING FIRED?
Yes, it is possible to collect workers’ compensation benefits even after being fired. However, the availability of these benefits may vary depending on the specific state laws and circumstances surrounding your termination.
In some states, there are no restrictions on collecting workers’ comp benefits after being terminated, as long as the injury or illness occurred while you were employed. You can still receive wage replacement and medical benefits to cover your treatment and recovery.
However, it’s important to note that each case is unique, and the outcome may depend on the specific details of your situation.
WHAT CAN YOU DO IF YOU ARE ILLEGALLY FIRED?
You must talk to your employer if you think your termination was unlawful. When that doesn’t work, it’s time to hire a workers compensation lawyer like Victor Malca.
Atty. Malca had been fighting for the rights of injured workers in Florida for over two decades. He can help you negotiate with your employer and take your case to court if necessary. His extensive experience in the field increases your chances of righting the injustice done to you. Call us now for a free consultation.
VICTOR MALCA – Florida Workers Compensation & Social Security Disability Attorney
Victor Malca P.A. has over 27 years of litigation experience in Workers Compensation and Social Security Disability lawsuits. His experience and continued success when fighting for his clients puts him among the most trusted workers’ compensation attorney’s in Florida. He specializes in representing injured workers on compensation benefit cases and disabled individuals claiming lost social security disability benefits.
Book a free consultation today. Our unwavering advocacy for employee rights and privileges are recognized by our past clients across South Florida.
About The Author
Judy Ponio is a writer and editor for the Victor Malca Law P.A. website and blog. She enjoys helping people in need with questions about social security disability and workers compensation law. She has a passion for helping those in need and the elderly with accurate legal information that can make a positive difference in their lives.