“Can my employer fire me for being injured on the job?”
Picture this: you got injured while doing your job. You file for worker compensation benefits to cover the costs of medical treatment and lost wages. Soon after you’re back to work, the employer terminates your contract. Can they do that?
The answer isn’t so simple.
When Terminating a Contract Is Illegal
Workers compensation benefits are put in place to ensure that employees who get injured while working don’t go bankrupt during their recovery. However, workers compensation doesn’t ensure job protection. So, if the employer can prove that they have cause for firing you, such as absenteeism, negligence, aggressive behavior, etc., then they can terminate your contract.
Retaliation, on the other hand, isn’t a legitimate reason for firing you. If you suspect that your employer has terminated your contract as retaliation, you should speak with a St. Louis work injury lawyer as soon as possible.
Keep in mind that termination isn’t the only way a company can retaliate against employees. Any form of discrimination that you notice can be reason enough for you to file suit. The purpose of workers compensation is not only to cover the cost of treatment and lost wage, but also protect you against aggressive and unjust behavior.
When the Employer Has the Right to Fire You
If you’ve tested positive for drug or alcohol use, then the employer likely has the right to fire you as you’ve broken company policy.
Here’s another scenario: you returned to work after having suffered from a serious injury. You are put on light duty because of your condition, meaning that the work you have to perform is less taxing than normal tasks. After a while, your employer lets you know that they will have to let you go soon.
There are two possible reasons here:
- The employer has “cause” to terminate your contract. Even if you are on light duty, that doesn’t mean that you can neglect your responsibilities. So, if you are always late, not following the company’s rule, missing work days on a regular basis, and so on, then the employer has a good base for firing you.
- There is no real cause for firing you and the termination of your contract was due to factors that were out of your control. For example, if the employer was unable to accommodate your light duty status or if the company lost a lot of business and they were forced to downsize, then there’s a high chance that you can still get lost wage benefits. Talk with your lawyer and see if you qualify and what you need to do next.
Things aren’t always as simple as they look. If you have been injured on the job, get in touch with an experienced workers compensation attorney to ensure that your legal rights