Can I be injured at work, then fired? So, you were injured at work. Depending on the severity of the injury, you may be out of commission for a while. Maybe you are even wondering if you can be injured at work, then fired.
This can be disconcerting for employees: after all, what’s to stop your employer from simply hiring someone to fill your job, rather than wait for you to come back?
You’ve probably heard of things like workers’ compensation, medical leave, etc. If you are wondering exactly what these laws mean and how much protection they award you, our attorneys at Gordon & Gordon have been assisting the citizens of Shreveport-Bossier with their workers’ compensation claims for decades. We understand that it is only natural to have concerns about job security when you are unable to work for an extended period of time.
In this post, we will provide you with critical knowledge behind work injuries, the laws that protect you when you are injured at work and hopefully alleviate some of your fears and concerns.
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
First, it is important you understand exactly what workers’ compensation is.
Less than a century ago, an injury at work spelled disaster for an employee. If you couldn’t work, you couldn’t earn wages. Coupled with expensive medical care, the result was abject poverty for a lot of families.
Workers’ compensation exists as a safety net. Louisiana requires nearly all employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance. This means that when there is a work injury, the injured party receives some compensation while they are unable to work. This includes medical bills, lost wages, etc.
Can Filing for Workers’ Compensation Get Me Fired?
An injured worker may wonder if they can be injured at work, then fired. After all, why would a company pay a worker who is sitting at home recovering from an injury when they could be paying someone else to work?
The answer is a little tricky. Louisiana is an “at-will” employment state, meaning either you or your employer can end your employment at any time, without warning. This is still the case even after you sustain a work injury.
Think of it this way: even though you are at home recuperating from an injury, your employer is still paying you as if you were any other employee. They reserve the right to include you in any layoffs or systematic downsizing. So, technically, you can be injured at work, then fired.
You do have one extra layer of protection, though it seems like a technicality: you cannot be fired solely for receiving workers’ compensation benefits.
If you suspect you have been injured at work then fired solely for receiving workers’ compensation, it is important you contact an attorney immediately. Proving that you were fired because you filed for workers’ compensation is frequently difficult, but is nearly impossible without a thorough and experienced workers’ compensation attorney. More on this later.
Can I Be Fired After Returning to Work With Restrictions?
Your doctor is the one who will tell you when it is safe to return to work. Before you are fully recovered, they can release you back to work with restrictions. Most likely, your doctor will give you a list of activities you should avoid at work for the time being.
Like we discussed earlier, even if you are back at work with restrictions, you are still subject to layoffs or downsizing. However, if you are not fully recovered, your former employer will have to continue paying workers’ compensation benefits until your doctor clears you to return to work fully recovered.
Even if you returned to work with restrictions and your workers’ compensation benefits cease, if your employer fires you, your benefits will be reinstated.
Can You Collect Workers Comp After Being Fired?
So, yes, you can be injured at work, then fired. You can even be injured at work, return to work with restrictions, and then be fired. But once your employer has fired you, what happens to your workers’ compensation benefits? Do they evaporate along with your job?
As we mentioned above, Louisiana requires employers to continue paying workers’ compensation benefits even if they fire or lay you off. According to the law, it doesn’t matter whether you are currently employed: if you get hurt at your job, you will receive workers’ compensation as long as your doctor agrees you are unable to work.
When your doctor clears you to go back to work with no restrictions, your workers’ compensation benefits will cease, and if your employer fired or laid you off, you will be responsible for finding new employment.
Taking Legal Action After You Were Injured At Work Then Fired
In a nutshell: you can be fired in Louisiana at any time for any reason, and you can certainly be injured at work, then fired, but you will receive workers’ compensation benefits until you are recovered regardless of your employment status.
However, your employer cannot fire you just because you were injured and filed for workers’ compensation benefits.
If you can prove that you were injured at work then fired for no reason other than your injury, there is cause for legal action. Gordon & Gordon’s attorneys can provide you with advice as well as help you take your unlawful termination lawsuit to court.
If you sue an employer for wrongful termination, there are multiple ways you can receive compensation: you can ask for a settlement for punitive damages, or you could regain your position. An attorney can give you an estimate as to what you may be entitled to, as well as if you have a genuine case for wrongful termination in the first place.
Call Gordon & Gordon
If you’ve been injured at your job and are wondering how to move forward, or for more information about workers’ compensation law, call Gordon & Gordon at 318.716.HELP, or send us a message with some information about your case.
You can make an appointment to see one of our attorneys at any of our locations, including Shreveport, Bossier City, and Mansfield.