Employees who are injured on the job are entitled by law to file a workers’ compensation claim, but often worry whether they can be fired for doing so. It is illegal to discriminate or retaliate against an employee for filing their claim. But there are instances when an employer can proceed with termination, so your job may not be protected while you’re on disability leave. Continue reading to learn more about the legality of being fired for filing a workers’ comp claim in California.
Workers’ Compensation: Protection from Retaliation
California is an at-will employment state. This means an employer can terminate or fire a worker at any time, for any legal reason. However, if you’re fired in retaliation for filing a claim, this is illegal. Examples include firing, reassigning, demotion, negative performance reviews, or creating a harsh work environment for that employee. Unexplained reductions in pay, work duties, or hours may be reasons for suspicion as well.
Workers’ Comp Does Not Always Protect Your Job
The law protects you from retaliation and discrimination. However, you can still be let go for legal reasons. For example, if there are layoffs in your department or throughout the company, it is typically not illegal to lose your job, whether you filed for workers’ comp or not. If you are unable to perform essential job functions, you may not get your job back. If poor work performance is the reason, a company can legally fire you.
In any case, when you go on leave, there is no guarantee you’ll be reinstated after you’ve reached full recovery. Like many states, California doesn’t require employers to keep job positions open indefinitely or offer a new one to accommodate your limitations. Whether you can make a claim for discrimination depends on the requirements of your job, the needs of the company, or whether any protected activities were violated.
What If You Were Fired Because of Your Workers’ Comp Claim?
It’s not always easy to tell if you were fired for having a workers’ comp claim. One telltale sign is the timing of your termination. If you were fired within a few weeks afterward, without a clear, legitimate reason, the employer’s action may be retaliatory. Other signs include negative remarks about your claim by managers, being pressured to dismiss your claim, or not being given a reason for being let go. If your supervisors have asked or pressured you to give up your workers’ comp rights, it could be a sign of a direct connection between your claim and dismissal.
Additional compensation can be entitled to you if you can prove your employer acted in this manner. Then you could file a retaliation claim with your workers’ comp case and ask for remedies such as job reinstatement, payment for lost wages, and punitive damages. You may be able to collect a penalty as well. Under California law, an employer would owe you an additional 50% of your benefits, up to $10,000, if you were discriminated against because of your claim.
Contact Lawyers for Justice
Workers’ compensation/retaliation cases can be hard to prove. Hiring a lawyer can ensure that your rights are protected. At Lawyers for Justice, our workers’ compensation attorney can determine whether your employer violated the law and if you are entitled to damages and much-deserved compensation. We fight for our clients’ rights when employers don’t abide by the law. Based in Glendale, we know every aspect of employment law; in Los Angeles and Southern California, clients can trust us to hold companies accountable when they’ve been treated unfairly.
Call 818-587-8423 to schedule a free consultation and get started on your case.