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Can your employer fire you for getting hurt on the job?

When you work for a company, you sell your mental prowess, physical strength and time for an hourly wage or an annual salary. Unfortunately, even in jobs that are not that physically demanding, it is possible for workers to suffer injuries on the job that leave them unable to continue doing their work or diminish the wages they can command.

When that happens, all too often companies try to get away with terminating the employee instead of working with them after their injury. Injured workers have rights. First and foremost, you have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim to cover your medical costs and the lost wages you miss during your recovery.

Beyond that, you also have the right to retain your employment unless your injury resulted from a severe violation of workplace rules, such as using machinery to play a practical joke or working while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Unless the incident leading to your injury itself was a fireable offense, your employer cannot fire you just for getting hurt on the job. Instead, they should be trying to accommodate your injury and keep you working.

Companies fire injured workers to save money

There’s no question that the obligations a business has to its workers can wind up becoming expensive if someone gets hurt on the job. A successful workers’ compensation claim on your part could mean that their premium for the coverage they extend to their employees will go up.

The company may try to fire you and deny your claim simply as a means of protecting themselves from financial liability. However, by doing so, they have effectively retaliated against you for seeking the benefits due to you after your injuries.

Federal laws protect you from retaliation and discrimination based on your injury

Those who have physical or mental conditions that impact their ability to perform a job don’t necessarily have to quit their job or leave the industry. Instead, they can ask their employer to provide them with reasonable accommodations that make it possible for them to continue performing their job.

Accommodations could include moving you to a different work setting, such as a desk instead of out in the field. They could also include computers or other accessibility services and devices, as well as changing the hours that you work or allowing you to work from home to be a way to accommodate a disability.

You have the right to fight the denial of your claim or an unfair termination

As an injured worker, you have specific protections against discrimination and retaliation by your employer. If the company you work for refuses to accommodate your condition or attempts to take punitive action against you, you can take action to protect yourself and connect with the compensation and benefits you deserve after a workplace injury.

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