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Can You Lose Your Job or be Fired while on Workers’ Compensation?

Recently, we discussed how workers’ compensation works by providing compensation, like medical benefits and missed wages, to help workers suffering from injuries or diseases caused by their employment.

Some have expressed concerns about filing for workers’ compensation because they fear retribution from their employer or that they may lose their jobs. Are these concerns valid?

Yes and No

Legally, an employee cannot be fired or laid off because he or she chooses to file for workers’ compensation. An employer cannot retaliate against you for filing for workers’ compensation benefits. However, there is no extra job protection for those out with a workers’ compensation claim. While on workers’ compensation, you may lose your job due to poor performance, the need to fill your position, layoffs or downsizing because of “at will” employment. You just may not legally be terminated due to your workers’ comp claim.

“At Will” Employment

Most employees in Pennsylvania are under “at will” employment, which means an employee can be terminated at any time without reason as long as no civil rights are violated and the termination does not violate public policy. The same rule holds true for employees. An employee can resign at any time with any reason.

When you have a workers’ compensation claim, the main difference between you and other employees at the company is that you may not be fired specifically because you are injured or on workers’ compensation. The best method of keeping your job is to communicate well with your employer. Notify the employer about your work status and provide any documentation the employer requests from your physician.

When Your Employer Terminates Your Position

Sometimes an employer needs to fill your job, especially if your injury/work restrictions prevent you from returning to work for a long time. For very physical jobs, your employer may fire you if your injury and/or resulting disability prevent you from performing required tasks. However, if you are able to perform your job with reasonable accommodations for your disability, your employer may not fire you solely because of your disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Receiving Benefits After Job Loss

If you are fired or lose your job while on workers’ compensation, you are still entitled to benefits. Even though you no longer work for the company, the workers’ compensation insurer will continue to pay medical and wage loss benefits. Lepley, Engelman, Yaw & Wilk can help you receive appropriate benefits to pay for treatments without going into debt, the correct type of disability benefits and provide advice on matters related to your injury/disability.

Suspicious Termination

If an employer fires an employee because of their injury or workers’ compensation, the employer could be subject to legal action for retaliatory discrimination. The challenge for employees who believes he or she has been subject to retaliatory discrimination is that it is very difficult to prove why an employer fired an employee.

With this in mind, it is important to keep evidence related to your injury and your employment, in the case your employer does terminate your employment wrongly.

If you feel you were fired or laid off unjustly, contact Lepley, Engelman, Yaw & Wilk. Gary L. Black, Esq., of our firm has been handling workers' compensation cases for nearly 30 years. An initial telephone conversation or meeting with him is always free. He will offer honest advice about next steps and help you understand your options. If you decide to pursue your claim with us, you will pay no fees until we win compensation for you.

More information about Lepley, Engelman, Yaw & Wilk’s approach to helping injured workers can be found here: https://www.lepleylaw.com/injured-workers-compensation.

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