Unfortunately, it is common for workers to be wrongfully terminated and fired while on workers compensation, but the workers may never be aware of the reasoning behind their firings. If you were laid off while on workers compensation, there is a chance that your legal rights were violated. Of course, it is acceptable for an employer to terminate you while you are out on worker’s compensation benefits, but not if the reason for the termination is the injury or the collection of benefits in general. If you feel that you were a victim of wrongful termination after going on workers comp, you may be able to file a lawsuit for discrimination or retaliatory termination. A labor law attorney at the California Labor Law Employment Attorneys Group can help handle your claim if your employer fired you because you had a workers compensation case. We are usually faced with various questions from clients, including:
- My employer fired me after I opened a workers compensation claim. Can he legally do that?
- Can I sue my employer for being fired after my workers comp case settled?
- I was fired because I filed for workers compensation. Can I sue my place of work?
- Can I sue my employer for being fired because I have a workers compensation case?
- Can I be fired for having a workers compensation case?
Worker’s Compensation Details
In California, you can collect worker’s compensation if you were hurt at work, even if the injury did not necessarily happen as a result of your job. For example, if you work as a typist but you fall while in the kitchen at your job, you could still collect worker’s compensation benefits. Worker’s compensation allows you to collect a portion of your wages while you are out of work, and it also allows your company to cover your medical expenses. The tradeoff is that you essentially give up the ability to sue the company for the injury.
There are various stages to worker’s compensation and a lot of nuance with claims. For one, you will have to go to a doctor that is specifically chosen by your company, unless you had initially requested that you be treated by your personal caretaker. This doctor is responsible for examining you, determining your disability level, providing you with treatment, monitoring your progress, assigning you work restrictions upon your return, and determining when you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI).
The majority of employees are employed under at-will employment. This means that an employer can terminate you at any time for any lawful reason. Likewise, you can leave the job at any time for any reason. There are occasions when contracts are signed that change the terms of employment, but for the most part, your employer can essentially choose if he wishes to fire you.
If you were injured, though, and you pursue a worker’s compensation claim, you can still be fired while on benefits or while waiting for benefits to kick in. You cannot, however, be fired expressly for collecting benefits, as this would be viewed as retaliatory termination. Many clients ask us, “Can I be fired while out on workers compensation? Can an employer fire you for workers comp? Can I be terminated for filing a workers compensation case?”
The answer is not simple. Because you are an employee still receiving benefits and pay, you are a normal employee who is subject to at-will laws. You may be fired as a part of a downsizing or because of poor work performance in the past. You may also be fired if you return to work and you cannot perform your old duties anymore. Your employer must do all he can to accommodate you with your injuries, but if you cannot complete your responsibilities, your employer can legally terminate you. For example, a typist who suffers permanent paralysis in his hands can be legally let go by his company, even if he is collecting worker’s compensation and disability. If he can still work through an injury, though, and then he was laid off for filing a workers compensation case, he could take legal action.
If you feel that you are a victim of retaliation for a workers’ compensation claim, you can pursue a lawsuit against your company. Talk with one of our wrongful termination attorneys with experience in workers compensation retaliation claims and wrongful firing claims.
How To Determine If You Were Wrongfully Terminated
It can be difficult to determine if you were a victim of wrongful termination, especially if you find that you have been let go while recovering at home. It is hard to get enough evidence at times to be certain that you were being terminated after a workers compensation claim.
The best evidence you can have is a confirmed statement from your employer that you were getting fired because you filed a worker’s compensation claim. However, few employers will outright admit that, as they know it is incriminating. They will instead dance around the issue and claim that you were let go for other reasons, such as your work performance or because your position was redundant. However, if you do not have a history of poor performance, or if your position is clearly necessary in the company, you could have evidence for your lawsuit.
You can also use the timing of your termination to your advantage. If you alerted your employer to your desire to pursue worker’s compensation and you were immediately fired, the timing could be very suspicious, and you could use it as evidence.
Further, if there is a history of terminations after employees have filed claims, you may have additional evidence. If an employee was fired because of the workers compensation claim he filed, you may get his testimony or even refer to his case if he had one. You can also ask coworkers to provide their statements if they overheard anything that could point to wrongful termination. However, many may balk at this due to the perceived risk of losing their own jobs.
With ample evidence, you can sue your employer for terminating you after you applied for workers compensation or for terminating you because of your workers compensation claim. Our team of attorneys can help.
Compensation from a Lawsuit
If your employer participated in illegal retaliation to terminate your employment for filing a workers compensation claim, you could file a lawsuit against the business to receive compensation. Your earnings could include the following:
- Reimbursement of lost wages from both the past and future
- Coverage for additional medical bills
- Emotional trauma
- Reinstatement of your old position
- Loss of benefits
There may even be the opportunity for punitive damages if your company has been acting in such a way for many years or has systematically discriminated against injured workers. A history of terminating an employee who has filed a workers compensation claim would not bode well for the business.
If you want to learn more, you can contact our firm today to speak with one of our expert attorneys.
Statute of Limitations for a Worker’s Comp Case
You have 1 year from the date of the injury to file a worker’s compensation case claim with your employer, but if you wish to sue for wrongful termination stemming from the worker’s compensation, you will have 2 years from the date of the injustice.
Additionally, you only have 1 year to file a claim for discrimination if you go to the FEHA. The FEHA can authorize your claim, but you will then only have 90 days to seek compensation.
Often, people will miss out on their claims because they do not know how much time they have to file a lawsuit or where they are in the timeline. It is highly recommended that you speak with one of our attorneys to help you with your case, as we will be able to accurately determine your remaining time and we will ensure that your claim and all accompanying documents are submitted on deadline.
Our Firm’s Goal
The California Labor Law Employment Attorneys Group can help you sue your boss for laying you off after you applied for workers comp. You should not be wrongfully terminated if you were hurt while at work, and your boss should be held responsible for the ensuing loss of earnings if he acted in a discriminatory manner. We will aggressively pursue the compensation you deserve and if we need to take your case to court because of a refusal to cooperate, we are willing to do so. We have recovered millions of dollars for our clients and we know the law inside and out – with us, you’ll be treated to the best attorneys in town, whose only goal is to secure you every penny you deserve.
Call our offices for a free legal consultation. If you have any questions, we’ll gladly answer them. You won’t have to worry about your personal details being released anywhere – our consultations are totally confidential. Our lawyers can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and we will always keep you adequately informed about the status of your case.
If you hire us, we’ll give you our zero fee guarantee. This is a promise that you won’t use your own money at all throughout the case; we will cover the costs ourselves, and we’ll be paid only if we win a settlement or verdict for you. The money will come from there. If we lose, we take no fees at all.
For more assistance, speak with one of our Los Angeles wrongful termination lawyers for illegal firing of workers compensation applicants. The California Labor Law Employment Attorneys Group will be all too happy to help you get started on your lawsuit.