After suffering injuries or an illness at work, many commonly ask, can you be fired while on workers comp? While the answer is not black and white, employers cannot legally fire an employee collecting benefits in most cases. If the worker has the ability, the employer may place them on light work duty until they recover from their injuries. If performance problems occur during that time, there could be a cause for termination. In other cases, the employee cannot work altogether while they recover. An employer that fails to comply with state workers’ compensation laws and regulations could face lawsuits and other legal challenges. Call a skilled workers’ compensation lawyer at Steelman Gaunt Crowley at (573) 341-8336 if you are interested in learning all of your legal rights.
Can You be Fired While on Workers Comp?
While there are some exceptions, organizations generally cannot fire employees while on workers’ comp after a workplace injury. The workers’ compensation statutes protect employees in the case of a workplace injury or illness. The laws also protect workers from wrongful termination in retaliation for filing a claim to collect benefits and when employers fail to comply.
If an individual believes their employer is out of compliance, they have the legal right to follow The Department of Labor’s guidelines to begin the complaint process. A knowledgeable workers’ comp lawyer at Steelman Gaunt Crowley could help file a complaint with the Fraud and Noncompliance Unit. While the procedure is confidential and the filer will not receive updates or information on the outcome, if the unit finds the entity guilty, it could help the employee with their claim for benefits or civil lawsuit.
Workers’ Comp Laws Protect Employees After Workplace Injuries and Illnesses
Missouri legislation ensures employees have the right to file a case with The Department of Labor for workers’ compensation benefits after sustaining injuries while completing job duties. Under the Revised Statutes of Missouri § 287.128, any business or individual that knowingly fails to provide the benefits as the statute requires may face civil and criminal penalties. Further, the party is guilty of a class A misdemeanor and other adverse consequences, including jail time, for a first offense. They face prosecution for a class E felony and steeper penalties for subsequent violations.
Employer Retaliation Is Illegal
There are a few exceptions that could allow a business to terminate an individual collecting workers’ compensation benefits, and those include the following:
- Company financial problems and layoffs
- They could assert that a worker on the light-duty is failing to meet standards or comply with company regulations
- Organizational restructuring and termination of the position
What Is Retaliation?
Employer retaliation after filing for workers’ compensation benefits often results in the termination of the individual’s employment with the organization. It is unlawful for any company or person to retaliate against a worker for filing for benefits after a workplace injury. There are options when a person believes their employer discriminated against or retaliated against them after filing. They have the legal right to file a case against the employer but must establish the following elements:
- The business employed the individual before they sustained the injury.
- The worker filed a claim for benefits after the accident, complying with the workers’ comp statute guidelines.
- The employer terminated the employee’s employment.
- There is a casual relationship between the individual filing for workers’ comp benefits and the employer issuing a termination.
- There were no other valid reasons for termination of employment.
If a person believes their employer retaliated against them after filing a claim for workers’ comp benefits, they could have legal grounds for a civil lawsuit and collect the benefits through an alternate process.
The Consequences of Terminating an Employee While on Workers’ Compensation
According to the guidance provided by the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, it is unlawful for employers to discharge or discriminate against employees for exercising their rights under the statute. Violation of the law provides workers the right to take civil action to collect damages from the business. While the party has the legal right to file a civil claim against their previous employer for wrongful termination, it is a complex legal matter. The agency recommends that anyone considering action consider seeking the advice of an experienced Missouri workers’ comp attorney in order to learn all of their legal options.
Can You Quit Your Job While Collecting Workers’ Compensation?
Individuals collecting workers’ compensation benefits after a workplace injury or illness are not legally required to remain with the employer. Should an employee decide to part ways after completing the steps to collect workers’ comp benefits and receiving approval, the valid claim remains in effect. While not unlawful, it may complicate matters when a person collecting benefits quits their job. It could also cause them to be ineligible for disability benefits, and employers commonly seek to deny claims after workers turn in resignations.
Sometimes, the benefits of ending the employee and employer relationship, such as an unsafe work environment, are the best option. Every case is unique and has its own set of circumstances. An experienced Missouri workers’ compensation attorney at Steelman Gaunt Crowley could help review the specifics of your case to help you understand your legal options.
Call an Experienced Missouri Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today
Organizations face the potential for civil lawsuits and criminal prosecution for unlawfully firing workers while they collect benefits after workplace injuries. Can you be fired while on workers comp? It is possible that an employer could have the legal right to fire or dismiss an employee under specific circumstances. However, they must have evidence to prove they fired the worker for reasons outside of the claim, such as misconduct or downsizing. Further, the law requires organizations to show that others could face termination under similar circumstances. Schedule a consultation with a seasoned workers’ comp lawyer at Steelman Gaunt Crowley at (573) 341-8336 for more information and to review your case.