After a work injury, some workers lay off their disabled workers because they simply don’t want to shell out all the money necessary to accommodate somebody they now consider a liability, instead of an asset. But state laws are quite clear when it comes to unlawful termination following a workplace accident, and there is ample room for you to sue.
When Is Firing After a Work Injury Unlawful?
Under workers’ compensation laws, employers are not allowed to fire injured workers after a work accident. Instead, businesses are legally bound to help the worker receive financial compensation to help them pay their medical bills and living expenses while they recover from their injuries.
Workers’ comp laws are quite clear about the situations when workers cannot lose their jobs after a work injury:
· Injured workers cannot be fired for reporting a work-related accident or filing a workers’ compensation claim.
· Injured workers cannot be fired if they refuse to perform certain work tasks if their physician has expressly prohibited them from doing so.
· Injured workers cannot be fired for missing work if they have a viable medical excuse.
· Injured workers cannot be fired if they file a lawsuit against their employer after a work-related injury.
Also, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers must accommodate disabled workers as long as the accommodations are “reasonable” and don’t put the business at risk or severely disrupt operations. Still, an employee might be terminated if they no longer can complete essential work responsibilities following an injury despite special accommodations.
If the employer refuses to make the ADA accommodations and decides just to fire the injured worker following a workplace accident, the employer can be sued. In fact, you could sue your employer if they terminated you in connection to a workplace injury in any of the examples of unlawful firing mentioned above.
When Can My Employer Lawfully Terminate Me?
An employer can legally terminate an injured worker after a workplace accident if the work-related injury was not the only reason for the firing. There are several situations where a business can legally terminate a worker after a work injury:
· Accommodations for the disabled workers put the business or business operations at risk.
· The business is not content with the worker’s job performance following the injury.
· The employee has a physically demanding job, and he or she can no longer perform it.
· The employer cannot wait for the injured worker to recover and needs to hire a replacement immediately.
· It is impossible to accommodate the disabled worker.
· The worker tested positive for alcohol or drugs.
- The disabled worker is disrespectful to the management/colleagues
- The disabled worker refuses to complete tasks that have been approved by their treating physician.
Can I Sue?
If your employer unlawfully fires you after a work injury, you can sue them and receive monetary compensation, in legalese, also known as economic damages. The most common types of damages you can get awarded in a wrongful termination case include:
· Lost earnings, including unpaid wages and overtime
· Attorney fees
· Emotional suffering (if the employer made the disabled employee’s life a living nightmare)
· Lost benefits, including health insurance, and denied worker’s compensation benefits.
Some wrongful termination lawsuits may result in millions of dollars worth of damages, but the odds of success are greatly enhanced if you have an experienced personal injury attorney specialized in wrongful termination cases on your side. Your (former) employer might be ready to put up a good fight too, so don’t hesitate to call a personal injury lawyer right now!