Many employees are terminated from their jobs shortly after they file for workers’ compensation, and wonder if this is legally permissible. There is a fine line in the legality of firing an employee while on workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation provides coverage for medical expenses and a portion of your lost wages ( paid as the compensation rate which is 2/3 of your average weekly wage) if you suffer an injury on the job. However, it only provides limited protection for your employment. This fine line is why it is so important that a written request be made for whatever medical care may be needed as a result of the accident. This puts the employer on notice and brings the claim within the protection of the worker’s compensation statute.
Florida Workers’ Compensation Laws Protect Employees from Retaliatory Termination
The law allows for dismissing an employee while on workers’ compensation for valid reasons. There is a statute prohibiting termination while validly pursuing a worker’s compensation case. Florida Statute Section 440.205 – Coercion of employees.—No employer shall discharge, threaten to discharge, intimidate, or coerce any employee by reason of such employee’s valid claim for compensation or attempt to claim compensation under the Workers’ Compensation Law.
If you were terminated while receiving workers’ compensation you may be asking yourself the following common questions:
- Do I get to keep my job?
Florida’s Workers’ Compensation Laws don’t require an employer to keep a worker’s position vacant while he or she recovers from a workplace injury. However, these laws do prohibit an employer from terminating an injured worker if the action is retaliation for filing the workers’ compensation claim.
- Do I get to keep my benefits after termination?
An employee terminated while receiving workers’ compensation benefits is still entitled to receive the workers’ compensation benefits. Employee benefits like health insurance and 401K and other employee benefits will terminate with the job termination. In fact, an individual with restrictions or totally disabled is not employable, and therefore unemployment benefits are not available to them nor should these be needed if you are being paid worker’s compensation lost wages. Lost time benefits will continue until the worker is released to return to work full duty or is placed at maximum medical improvement (MMI) even if there are permanent restrictions.
- If I caused the accident, can my benefits be terminated?
Employees are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits even if their own actions were partly or solely to blame for their injuries.
If you believe you were terminated because you filed a workers’ compensation claim, you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible. The attorneys at De Cardenas Freixas Stein & Zachary, P.A. have decades-long history of working with injured individuals who have claims against third parties or against their employers for work-related injuries. A well-versed attorney in Worker’s Compensation can investigate the connection between your filing a claim and subsequent termination, allowing you to get the fair treatment you deserve.