Suffering a work-related injury is difficult enough without other complications. What do you do if you have been fired after being injured or filing a workers’ compensation claim? Unfortunately, while you have some protections, your employer is usually able to fire you unless they are doing so in retaliation for filing a claim or if they are violating an employment contract. If you think your termination was wrongful, there are some steps you should take.
The first thing to do is gather evidence and documentation regarding your job and termination. For example, you should collect your employee handbook, emails regarding your performance, yearly evaluations, workplace policies, and the termination notice if it was provided in writing. Additionally, write down your recollection of conversations with supervisors and other employees regarding your job, performance, and firing.
Next, contact our experienced Arkansas workers’ compensation lawyers. In addition to fighting for injured workers’ just compensation, our lawyers are committed to holding employers liable for wrongful terminations. Call (479) 316-0438 to discuss the specifics of your case.
Can My Boss Fire Me While I’m on Workers’ Compensation in Arkansas?
Your employer’s legal rights will hinge on the terms of your employment. Our Arkansas workers’ comp lawyers will first have to establish if you are a “contract” or an “at-will” employee.
At-will employees have very limited rights. Typically, an employer can terminate an at-will employee for any reason whatsoever or no reason at all. However, there are some limitations, including retaliation which we will explore in more detail below.
Some employees in Arkansas are working under the terms of an employment contract. For example, the coach of the Razorbacks has a contract and, should that coach be fired, the University of Arkansas will still likely have to honor the contract’s payment terms. Most contract employees in Arkansas do not negotiate an individual contract and work under the terms of a union contract. No matter the specifics of the contract, there will be provisions that protect employees from being fired arbitrarily.
If your employer fires you while you are on workers’ compensation, they will probably not come out and provide that as the reason. If you believe the only reason you were fired was because of an injury, our office will have to gather evidence to support your claim.
Can My Employer Ask Me to Pay for Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
Unlike many legal questions, this one is straightforward. Whether you live in Arkansas or any other state, your employer must pay for your workers’ compensation insurance. The cost for this insurance is a percentage of your employer’s total payroll. Unlike health insurance, your employer is not permitted to fund workers’ comp through a payroll deduction or expect their employees to pay a percentage of the premium. If your employer insists that you contribute towards your insurance coverage, contact our Bentonville workers’ compensation lawyer immediately.
Is Firing an Employee on Workers’ Comp Considered “Retaliation”?
As stated above, your employer, even if you are an “at-will” employee, is not allowed to fire you if you file a workers’ compensation claim. However, this does not mean that your job is safe.
It is illegal in Arkansas and other states for your employer to discriminate or fire you for sustaining a work-related injury or filing a claim under their workers’ compensation insurance policy. Under the law, this includes more than just firing an employee. Your employer is also prohibited from disciplining, demoting, reassigning, or otherwise punishing you because you filed a claim.
This type of conduct from your employer is considered “retaliation.” However, proving retaliation is difficult because there are legitimate reasons why your employer could fire you, even though you have been injured and have filed a workers’ comp claim.
Fired for Reasons Unrelated to Your Injury
Even if you were injured, you could still be fired if you were an “at-will” employee and you were not fired specifically for filing a workers’ compensation claim. For example, you could be terminated for poor job performance or because of job-wide layoffs. An employer is unlike to say that you were being fired in retaliation for filing an injury claim. However, if you were wrongfully or illegally fired, contact our Fort Smith workers’ comp attorneys immediately.
Fired Because Your Injury Prevents You From Performing Your Job Duties
While it is illegal for your employer to fire you because you were injured in a work-related accident or filed a workers’ comp claim, you could be terminated if your injury impacts your ability to do your job in the future.
In some cases, if your injury is severe enough, you might qualify as disabled under the American With Disabilities Act (ADA). Under the ADA, your employer must provide reasonable accommodations to allow you to perform your required duties. For example, your employer might have to provide you with a reserved parking space close to the building’s entrance.
However, after these accommodations have been put in place, you could still be fired if you cannot perform your job tasks. Additionally, the ADA only requires “reasonable” accommodations. Your company is not required to make changes or adapt the workplace if such accommodations would place an undue financial hardship on your employer.
When Should I Call a Workers’ Comp Attorney in Arkansas?
Navigating the workers’ compensation process could be challenging. Therefore, if you are injured in a work-related incident, you should contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. If you lost your job because you were hurt or if you believe your employer retaliated against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim, contact our Harris workers’ compensation lawyers at (479) 316-0438 as soon as possible. Our team will investigate your claim and fight for your rights.