Fired While On Workers Compensation

Read time: 2.75 minutes

TL;DR

  • Your employer cannot fire you for making a workers’ compensation claim; however, they may fire you while you have a pending claim as long as they can show that there were reasons for firing you that were unrelated to your workers’ compensation claim.
  • Most employees in Louisiana are considered to be at-will employees, meaning you may be terminated by an employer for any legal reason and without warning.
  • Contract employees are mostly dictated by a contractual agreement between them and their employer which usually has specific provisions about their termination.
  • It can be difficult to prove that your firing was retaliatory, so it’s important that you gather solid evidence to show that your employer illegally fired you.
  • If, following an accident, you are left with a disability or permanent work restrictions that prevent you from performing your job duties, then your employer has the right to fire you.
  • If, following an accident, you are left with a disability but are still able to do your job with reasonable accommodations, your employer cannot terminate your employment due as this would be a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

 

Being injured or contracting an illness as a result of your employment is a distressing ordeal. Many employees simply wish to avoid making a workers’ compensation claim for fear of being fired or other retaliatory action by their employer. So can your employer fire you for making a workers’ compensation claim? The short answer is no. But, your employer may fire you while you have a pending claim for workers’ compensation as long as they can show that there were reasons for firing you or laying you off that were not related to your workers’ compensation claim.

 

At-Will Employment

 

Most employees in Louisiana are considered to be at-will employees. At-will employees may be terminated by an employer for any legal reason and without warning. Your employer cannot fire you in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim, as discussed below. But, the claim may give them a motive to find a legal reason to let you go while the claim is open. At-will employers do not need just cause to fire an employee. An employer can point to any reason that is not discriminatory or retaliatory to end your employment. This can include past poor work performance reviews, layoffs due to financial problems, a restructuring of the company, etc.

 

Contract employees, however, have different rights. Their employment is mostly dictated by a contractual agreement between them and their employer. The contract usually has specific provisions about their termination. But like at-will employees, they cannot be fired in retaliation for a workers’ compensation claim.

 

Retaliatory Termination

 

Louisiana law specifically prohibits an employer from firing an employee for asserting a workers’ compensation claim for benefits. Nevertheless, an employer is unlikely to admit that the termination is in fact retaliatory, and it can be difficult to prove otherwise. It is important that you gather solid evidence to show that your employer illegally fired you. Save emails and any documents related to your injury and employment.

 

Upon reaching your maximum medical improvement, you may be left with a disability or permanent work restrictions. If your condition makes it impossible to do your job, then your employer has the right to fire you. No employer is required to keep employing someone that can no longer perform their job duties.

 

However, if you can still do your job with reasonable accommodations, your employer cannot terminate your employment due to your disability. This would be a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits the discrimination of individuals with disabilities. Employers are required to make reasonable efforts to accommodate your new work restrictions so that you can continue in your job. This can include allowing for more short breaks and/or ergonomic work stations for prolonged sitting and/or standing. Your employer also has the right to offer you alternative, light duty work. This is often the case with jobs that are physically demanding.

 

If you are simply unable to return to your job due to a disability or permanent work requirements, you can be eligible for additional workers’ compensation benefits, such as vocational retraining or pensions through permanent and total disability benefits.

 

If you were fired while receiving workers’ compensation benefits or in retaliation for a workers’ compensation claim, contact our office so that we can advise you of your legal options.

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