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 very fine line separating these two which some employers use to their advantage.
You have to remember that our laws give equal protection to both the employer and the employee. Employers can fire their workers for any reason they deem fit. In a similar fashion, 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 will usually allow you to go back 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. Meaning, they need to make workplace adjustments that will allow you to do your job to the same extent as your abled coworkers.
For example, they can reduce your work hours per week 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 providing 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 got 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 even if you are terminated, your workers’ compensation benefits should continue. Unless you’re fired for grave misconduct, your termination will not affect your benefits.
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 if said employee is receiving workers’ compensation or not.
Among the legal consequences businesses can possibly 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 for the closure of the business.
What Can You Do If You Are Illegally Fired?
If you think your termination was unlawful, you need to talk to your employer. 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 LAW – A TRUSTED NAME IN FLORIDA
Victor Malca Law has over 25 years of litigation experience, we are the most trusted workers’ compensation lawyers in Florida. Our area of expertise is in representing injured workers on compensation benefit cases and disabled individuals claim social security disability benefits.
Our unwavering advocacy for employee rights and privileges are also recognized by our peers. Book a free consultation today.
About The Author
Judy Ponio is a writer for Victor Malca Law P.A. and enjoys helping people with questions about social security, workers compensation, and other serious matters involving people’s livelihood. She is not an attorney and her writing should not be considered legal advice.