Workers’ compensation insurance covers you when you get injured while performing your job. You will receive benefits after your workers’ compensation claim is approved until you fully recover or reach maximum medical improvement (MMI.) At MMI, your doctors have agreed that you have reached the point at which you are as recovered as you will be.
What happens if before you reach MMI or recover you hear from your employer that your job is being terminated? Is this legal, especially since you are out on workers’ compensation? In numerous cases, it is. However, every situation is different, and your employer cannot fire you for filing your workers’ compensation claim. Instead, the termination must be for a different, non-discriminatory or non-retaliatory reason.
When Is It Legal for an Employer to Fire an Employee Who Filed for Workers’ Compensation?
Like in many other states, workers in Pennsylvania are hired at will. This means that your employer can terminate your employment any time as long as the termination is legal. Conversely, you can quit your job any time.
Here are some legal grounds that an employer might fire you if you were collecting workers’ compensation and no longer actively coming to work:
- You were being disciplined for poor performance issues before you had your accident. Documentation such as discussions with your manager or a human resources person would support the idea that your potential termination was already in process.
- Your company can no longer remain financially viable. A company that is having financial difficulties may have to let a number of workers go, whether or not those workers are receiving workers’ compensation benefits.
- Your company is going through a restructuring phase. Companies restructure all the time. If yours revises its workforce needs, your position may be eliminated in the process.
Do Workers’ Compensation Benefits Stop if You Are Fired?
As long as you were let go for something other than egregious misconduct, in which case your workers’ compensation claim would probably be denied, you can expect to collect workers’ compensation benefits until you can return to work or reach MMI. Even though you are not returning to your previous employer, you are still owed workers’ compensation benefits.
What if You Suspect Your Employer Fires You Out of Retaliation?
Employers are not allowed to fire you simply because you file for workers’ compensation. However, some employees who have been fired after collecting workers’ compensation benefits believe that their employers are acting in a discriminatory or retaliatory way.
It can be very challenging to prove that an employer fired you illegally. No employer wants to admit retaliating, after all. This is where contacting a workers’ compensation lawyer can be beneficial.
A workers’ compensation lawyer can help you build a case to show that you were wrongfully terminated. You can help your cause by taking a few steps on your own:
- Keep copies of all documentation and communication between you and your employer regarding your workers’ compensation, including electronic exchanges through text or a third-party private app such as Slack.
- Keep a journal or diary of all conversations that were not in written form and be sure to date them.
- Keep attending all your medical appointments to show that you are taking your treatment and recovery seriously.
Above all else, get the care you deserve if you are injured while at work. Too many employees resist going to a doctor or filing a workers’ compensation claim after being hurt. Even a small injury can turn into a more serious or chronic problem if left undiagnosed, unmanaged, or untreated. Taking care of yourself should always be your number one priority.
Downingtown Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Wusinich, Sweeney & Ryan, LLC Can Help Determine if Your Termination Was Legal
If you believe you may have been wrongfully terminated after filing for workers’ compensation benefits, reach out to the Downingtown workers’ compensation lawyers at Wusinich, Sweeney & Ryan, LLC. Our experienced legal team will advocate for your legal rights and fight to receive the benefits for which you are entitled. Contact us online or call us at 610-594-1600 for a free consultation today. We are located in Exton, Pennsylvania, where we serve clients throughout Downingtown, West Chester, Exton, Coatesville, Phoenixville, Malvern, Lyndell, Wagontown, Uwchlan Township, Parkesburg, Chester Springs, Lancaster County, Reading, and Morgantown.