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Can I be fired after getting hurt on the job?

As you may have guessed, the answer to that question is more complicated than a simple yes or no.

First, it's important to keep in mind that most employment relationships are at-will. If you have not signed a contract with your employer, then your employer can generally fire you at any time for any reason.

However, federal law prohibits employers from firing workers in retaliation for reporting unsafe working conditions or filing workers' compensation claims. If an employer terminates a worker in retaliation, the worker may be able to file a civil lawsuit against the employer.

At the same time, an employer can fire a worker who has filed a workers' comp claim if the firing is due to some other reason than retaliation. Examples include:

  • If a worker was injured while disobeying written workplace policy, then he can be terminated after being approved to return to work by a doctor
  • A worker can be terminated if he can no longer perform the job duties after he has returned to work and reasonable accommodations have been made by the employer
  • A worker can be terminated after returning to work if the employer closed the business, cut the worker's department or laid-off workers

Ultimately, a worker cannot be fired for getting injured on the job and seeking workers' compensation benefits. If an injury occurs that causes a disability, the employer must make a reasonable accommodation to keep the worker employed.

Therefore, workers should not avoid filing a workers' comp claim out of fear of termination. Additionally, all workplace injuries should be reported to the employer right away to help document the injury for a future workers' comp claim.

Keep in mind that this is just general information and workers should speak with an experienced attorney for personalized advice. Workers who have been retaliated against should also speak with a lawyer immediately because they could be entitled to compensation.

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