Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for employers to try to fire, demote, or otherwise punish employees who get hurt at work and attempt to claim workers’ compensation benefits. However, the State of Arkansas has laws that prevent employers from taking these actions solely on the basis of the injury itself or the insurance claim.
You may have additional rights against wrongful termination or punishment if you are a contract employee, as opposed to an at-will employee. If your injuries are severe enough that they prevent you from doing your job, you may also benefit from the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).
Dealing with a painful work injury is already difficult enough. When your employer tries to violate your rights against retaliation, you deserve quality legal assistance from our dedicated Fayetteville workers’ compensation attorneys. To get a free initial case assessment, call us today at (479) 316-0438.
Can Your Employer Fire You if You Were Hurt at Work in Arkansas?
There is an important distinction to note with this question. Under Arkansas law, your employer may decide to fire you in certain circumstances if you were hurt while working. However, the law does not allow your employer to fire you because you were hurt while at work. This is referred to as “retaliation,” and is considered grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit.
Your rights also depend on your classification as an employee. There are two general types of employees in Arkansas: at-will and contract employees.
An at-will employee has the less rights under Arkansas law than a contract employee. At-will employees typically are paid hourly, daily, or per job, as opposed to receiving a salary. At-will employees may be terminated for no cause. To put it differently, the employer does not have to give a reason why they are firing an at-will employee. However, Arkansas laws against retaliation still bar against the firing of an at-will employee for getting hurt at work or filing a workers’ compensation claim.
Employees that are under contract have more rights. These rights are contained within the language of the contract. If you are a member of a union, the union likely negotiated the terms of your contract on your behalf. Employers must generally provide a specified reason for termination that is included within the terms of the contract.
Can Your Employer Demote or Reassign You for Getting Hurt at Work in Arkansas?
The Arkansas laws that prevent retaliation against employees don’t just guard against wrongful termination. Employers may not discipline, punish, demote, reassign, or reduce the pay of an employee for no other reason than their workplace injury or workers’ compensation claim. If you have received unfair treatment at work after suffering an injury, even if you were not fired, you should consult a Bentonville workers’ compensation attorney about your rights to restore your previous employment status.
Can Your Employer Fire You if Your Injury Prevents You from Doing Your Job?
As discussed above, your employer cannot fire you simply because you were hurt at work. However, if your injury prevents you from performing the basic functions of your job, that may be valid legal cause for terminating you as an employee.
However, your employer likely has to take some steps to assist you before they make this decision. Injuries that are so severe that they prevent you from doing your job may qualify as a disability under the ADA. The ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to help you do your job in light of your condition. For instance, if your injuries require you to use a wheelchair, your employer may be required to make modifications that would make your workspace handicap accessible. Arkansas workers’ compensation rules might have similar requirements.
There are limits on how far the ADA can require an employer to go to adjust for your disability. The ADA only forces employers to make “reasonable” accommodations. If the necessary changes would cause undue financial hardship for the employer, that might not be covered under the ADA. If your employer were to make reasonable modifications and your condition still prevented you from fulfilling the requirements of your job, your employer may still terminate you, whether you are an at-will or contract employee.
How Long Do You Have to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Arkansas?
If you hope to recover the benefits that you are owed through your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance policy, you must file your claim within two years of when you sustained the injury. If you miss the two-year deadline, your claim will be denied, and you won’t receive any compensation.
Filing a “notice of injury” with your employer is not the same as filing a workers’ compensation claim. Just because you notify your employer of the injury you sustained does not mean that they are legally obligated to file the claim on your behalf, nor does it mean that the clock stops. While your employer may file a workers’ compensation claim for you, you would be wise to take matters into your own hands and file your own claim with the help of your Fort Smith workers’ compensation lawyers.
Can You Be Fired if Your Workers’ Compensation Claim Is Denied in Arkansas?
Firing someone for getting hurt at work is still retaliation, even if they do not file a workers’ compensation claim or their claim is denied. The bottom line is that your employer cannot just fire you if the only reason is that you sustained an injury in the course of your job.
You may also appeal a denial of your workers’ compensation claim. Your appeal would go directly to the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission. You may also choose to appeal if your claim was only partially denied or if you feel that the distribution of your claim’s benefits ended prematurely.
Learn About Your Rights With Our Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
For all questions surrounding your rights against harmful employer action after work injuries or workers’ compensation claims, call our Rogers workers’ compensation lawyers today at (479) 316-0438.
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