In most instances, you cannot get fired after getting spine surgery. There may have been a number of laws broken by your employer if you were fired after getting spine surgery because of a reason related to your spine surgery. You need to make sure your rights as an employee have not been violated because you had to get spine surgery. Our lawyers at California Labor Law Employment Attorneys Group understand that getting spine surgery can be scary. Facing unlawful employers who hold the future of your job in their hands is also scary. While we may not be able to do much about the spine surgery, we can sure help when it comes to punishing employers who illegally terminate employees for having to go through a major surgery. Get in contact with one of our spine surgery lawyers to get started on a lawsuit against your employer.
Was your spine injured on the job?
If you had to get spine surgery because of an injury sustained on the job, you make be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. If your employer refused to let you file a workers’ compensation claim, they have violated your rights as an employee. All employees covered have the legal right to file a workers’ compensation claim if they feel they have been injured at work. Under California’s workers’ compensation program, you may be entitled to different kinds of benefits such as death benefits, mileage rates, modification to Whole Person Impairment, statewide average weekly wage (SAWW), temporary and permanent disability and supplemental job displacement benefits, and access to the Return to Work Supplement Program (RTWSP).
To may be able to receive workers’ compensation benefits if you were injured in a single accident at work if your injury was due to constant exposure or repeated movements from your job. Under the law you are also protected from your employer firing you or retaliating against you for enacting any of your rights under the law such as filing a workers’ compensation claim, letting your employer know you are filing a claim, or using any of the benefits provided to you.
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Does workers’ compensation cover my spine surgery?
If you need surgery because of an injury at work, you may be considered temporarily disabled and receive temporary disability benefits. These are payments if you have lost when you are unable to do your job while recovering. You can receive these benefits if you are unable to work while recovering and your employer does not offer you other work pays the same wage as your regular rate. Generally, temporary disability benefits equal two thirds of your gross wages lost. On top of this, you may also be able to have your spine surgery paid for through the workers’ compensation program. If it can be proven that surgery is the treatment needed for you work-related injury, then your surgery will most likely be covered.
California also has something called short-term disability insurance which applies to any injury that prevents you from being able to work. All employees in California pay into the short-term disability program through their payroll deductions. To qualify for the benefits, you must have earned $300 in your base period, which is the 12-month period right before the last calendar quarter before filing a state disability insurance claim, and be under the care of a doctor who has certified that you are unable to work. Your SDI payments are made every two weeks and are around 60%-70% of your average wages in a calendar quarter during your base period. Payments can continue for up to 52 weeks.
Can I get fired for taking time off after my spine surgery?
No, you most likely cannot get fired for taking time off to recover from spine surgery. Recovering from spine surgery can take up to several months. Fortunately, there are federal and state laws that protect your job and allow for you to take unpaid time off. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows for employees that are covered to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave with the guarantee they will have their job when they return. The FMLA applies to companies with 50 or more employees who have worked at least 1,250 hours within the last 12 months. As an employee, you are covered under the FMLA if you have worked at your job for at least a year and live within a 75-mile radius of the job site. Reasons to take FMLA leave are for childbirth, adoption, or placing a child in foster care; to take care of an immediate family member who has a serious medical condition; or to address your own serious medical condition.
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The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) is the state version of the FMLA. It is very similar to the FMLA and you may be able to take unpaid, job secured leave after your spine surgery through this law as well. Both these laws prohibit retaliation from your employers as a response to enacting your rights under these laws. This means, it is illegal for your employer to fire you because you decide to take your CFRA or FMLA leave after your spine surgery. If you have been fired or faced any kind of negative employment repercussions because you decided to exercise your employment rights, then you need to consult with one of our spine surgery attorneys right away to make sure that your employer does not use your surgery as an excuse to terminate your job.
What else covers my spine surgery?
There is a possibility that you may become disabled due to your surgery. If it takes over 6 months for you to fully recover, you may qualify to be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA protects those that are disabled from employment discrimination. A disability, under the ADA is defined as either a physical or mental impairment that limits someone’s ability to perform one or more major life activity or a record of such impairment. It is clearly stated that the ADA does not cover impairments that are transitory or last less than 6 months. However, as it’s been shown, recovery from spine surgery may take months, and if your recovery is prolonged to longer than 6 months, or if you never fully recover, you may be protected under the ADA.
The ADA also calls for employers to provide reasonable accommodations for disabled employees as long as it does not cause undue hardship to them. This means that you may be eligible to receive reasonable accommodations such as changes in your work schedule, modifications to facilities, and other devices or assistance needed based on your individual case. Do not let your employees cut you off short of everything that is rightfully yours. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act is similar to the ADA in that it is an anti-discrimination law that prohibits discrimination against protected categories, which includes mental and physical disabilities. Both these anti-discrimination laws prohibit retaliation from your employers. Once again, if you have been fired for enacting your rights under these laws, then you have been wrongfully terminated and you should file a lawsuit.
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As you can see, there are many laws that protect you from being fired for getting spine surgery. If you have been fired, you need to get in contact with us immediately. It’s already quite a burden to have to sustain an injury that requires spine surgery and then go through with the actual spine surgery itself. Your employer firing you is just added unnecessary stress. Let us help try to alleviate some of that stress by representing you in a discrimination or wrongful termination lawsuit. If you are worried about costs, you do not need to. We do not ask for any out-of-pocket fees, and we will only ask for a small fee if we win your case. Everything else like legal costs and even transportation will be free of charge. If you have already spoken to a lawyer about your case involving spine surgery, we encourage you to still reach out to us so we can provide you with a second opinion. Our goal is to make sure you receive maximum benefits for your damages.