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Can employers fire employees for filing workers’ compensation claims?

On Behalf of | Jul 10, 2024 | Workers' Compensation

Professionals in Connecticut typically expect to do their jobs and then go home for the day. Most shifts are uneventful, and workers rarely need to know much about their rights in the workplace. However, that can change in an instant.

Maybe one worker spilled their coffee, and someone slips. They can break a bone or develop a brain injury. Perhaps there is an equipment malfunction or some other major issue in the workplace. When an employee sustains a noticeable injury, they may require workers’ compensation benefits.

The available benefits include both medical coverage and wage replacement benefits. Many workers feel anxious about making a claim for benefits. They may worry that an employer might decide to fire them. Does an employee have to worry about losing their job if they file a workers’ compensation claim?

A claim should not be the reason for a termination

Federal law and state statutes prohibit employer retaliation. Workers have various protections on the job, and an employer cannot fire them for knowing and making use of their rights. The ability to file a workers’ compensation claim is a basic employee protection.

Companies cannot punish workers for reporting that they got hurt on the job or seeking the benefits they deserve. That being said, workers can and sometimes do lose their jobs during workers’ compensation claims.

Employers sometimes terminate workers who take an extended leave of absence. Larger companies may have an easier time accommodating an extended leave. Often, workers are at risk of job loss if they exhaust their paid leave or have already taken the maximum amount of unpaid leave available under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Most of the time, workers are eligible for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave without employment consequences. However, when employees require more time away from the job than that, the company could terminate them without it constituting retaliation.

In some cases, the long-term consequences of an injury could affect someone’s suitability for a position at the company. Employers may eventually terminate workers who cannot perform the same job functions due to injury-related limitations.

While employers can potentially terminate workers due to issues related to injury or other medical conditions, it is not legal for a company to fire a worker specifically because they file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Employees who have lost their jobs or who worry that an employer may attempt to terminate them may need assistance while navigating the workers’ compensation system.

Learning more about employment rules and workers’ compensation benefits can be helpful for those dealing with job-acquired illnesses or injuries. Workers who understand their rights are less likely to tolerate inappropriate conduct from employers and other unfair circumstances.