Can a Job Fire You While on Workers' Comp? – Helping Indiana Employees Understand Their Rights
After sustaining a work-related injury, many employees are unable to complete their regular job duties. Many can never even go back to work because of a disability.
As a result, they must stay at home or look for a light-duty job while receiving workers' compensation benefits.
However, for most employees, staying at home watching TV or reading books is not a comforting idea. There are mounting bills to pay, including those for medical treatment and medicines.
That huge dose of stress and anxiety can make any injured worker want to return to work. However, many worry about whether they could be fired after filing a workers' compensation claim.
It often prevents many workers from reporting their workplace injuries to their employers. Many employees are afraid of losing their jobs. As a result, they use their health insurance to cover costs related to doctor visits and sick days when they need time off. However, that is not always favorable.
Understanding the state's workers' compensation laws is essential to making a good decision regarding their cases. Here's more information about them.
Using Health Insurance Instead of Filing a Workers' Comp Claim
As mentioned, many employees are tempted to use their health insurance instead of filing a workers' compensation claim because they fear losing their jobs.
However, today's doctors often screen for workplace injuries. If they determine that the injury or illness an employee developed is work-related, they will refuse to service them or try to bill their employer's workers' compensation insurance provider.
This fact leaves employees with only a few options when they are injured or develop an illness on the job.
However, many people still wonder if they can be fired for filing a workers' compensation claim.
What Do Indiana's Laws Say?
Based on Indiana's labor laws, an employer may not fire an employee for filing a workers' compensation claim.
However, Indiana is an at-will employment state. Therefore, employers can fire workers at any time and for any reason, whether there is a workers' comp settlement or not.
Additionally, the state's laws prohibit employers from discriminating against workers based on disabilities, even if the employee did not have one when they were hired, it was caused by a workplace accident, or their condition worsened after the employment relationship began.
In other words, an employer can fire workers who have an open workers' compensation claim as long as they can prove that the reasons for firing the employee are not related to the case.
How The Type of Employee Affects the Case
As mentioned, since Indiana is an at-will employment state, an employer can fire a worker at any time for no reason whatsoever. Also, employees can resign at any time.
However, there are several types of employees, and people should know their status if they plan to file a claim to get workers' compensation benefits.
Employers can terminate at-will employees at any time for a handful of reasons, including the following:
Previous work performance
Layoffs due to financial problems
And any other legal reason
Although this action is prohibited, employers can fire employees who have filed a workers' compensation claim, but most will not disclose that this was the reason for the firing.
Therefore, employees who believe they have been wrongfully terminated should contact an Indianapolis workers compensation attorney. In most cases, they can file a lawsuit for discrimination or retaliatory termination, which is prohibited and penalized under Indiana law.
Cases involving contract employees are handled differently because they do not have the same rights. However, employers still cannot terminate these workers for retaliation or discrimination.
Additionally, the contracts for these types of employees must list the specific reasons why the employer might terminate them.
Many employers add a clause, saying that they can terminate an employee if they are unable to work for a given period of time, which is the case with injured people.
As a result, many companies use that provision to terminate employees on long-term workers' compensation claims. In these cases, it is often legal.
Termination for Filing a Workers' Comp Claim
It is considered illegal when an employer terminates an employee for reporting an on-the-job injury or filing a workers' compensation claim.
However, as mentioned, many use other reasons to support their decision. No employee will disclose that they have fired an employee for a workers' compensation claim, as most of them are aware that this can lead to a lawsuit.
Therefore, most employees use the following pretexts to fire an employee:
Excessive tardiness or absences
In some cases, the reasons are genuine. However, most of the time, they are just excuses to fire a worker who had the right to file a workers' compensation claim.
If the employee never received a negative performance review, got along with their supervisors and coworkers, or has a spotless attendance record, firing them may be considered illegal retaliation.
Injured employees who have been terminated and suspect that it is due to their workers' compensation claim should try to collect evidence to prove this suspicion and contact an experienced attorney.
Can Employers Fire an Employee Who Hasn't Recovered?
Essentially, employers cannot fire employees who have not fully recovered from their injuries. They are required to keep workers on until they reach Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). It describes the point at which their condition will not improve with further treatment.
Final Thoughts: When Should Employees Call a Workers' Compensation Attorney?
Injured employees who have been terminated after filing workers' compensation claims have the right to take legal action if they believe the reasons for the dismissal have to do with this action.
As mentioned, Indiana prohibits employers from firing employees for discriminatory and retaliatory reasons.
However, although the state prohibits employers from firing employees if they suffered a workplace injury and filed a claim, they can be terminated even if they are receiving workers' comp benefits.
It is possible because an employee can be fired while on workers' compensation as long as the reasons for the termination are not related to their claim.
However, it is important to understand Indiana's labor and workers' compensation laws to handle each case and get the best possible results.
Therefore, any worker fired while on workers' compensation should get help from a seasoned attorney, especially if they plan to file a claim against their employers.
Call Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys Today!
Filing a workers' comp claim is not a valid reason to terminate employees. Any worker who has been wrongfully terminated can find an experienced lawyer at Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys. They can also answer questions like, "Can I retire while on workers comp?"
This law firm has a professional team of attorneys with the knowledge and know-how to handle workers' compensation cases. In addition, Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys is willing to help employees fight for their rights.
Call Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys and get a free consultation today!