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First Steps If You're Fired After an On-the-Job Injury

By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on September 17, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

You cannot be fired for getting injured on the job and filing a workers' compensation claim. But you can be fired for other reasons. All the boss has to do is present that termination in legal terms.

Your employer may say your dismissal is based on poor performance or financial difficulties, and that is technically permissible. Your employer simply cannot blame the firing on the injury. At-will employees can be terminated at any time as long as it is not a discriminatory or retaliatory act. Still, if you are fired and it smells fishy, you should do something about it.

Make a Paper Trail

The first step if you suspect retaliation is to gather evidence. Collect all the documentation you have about your injury and the job, including contracts, medical records, prescriptions, workers' compensation claims, and all relevant communications with your employer.

What communications are relevant, you ask? Well, that will depend on your specific context. Anything that sheds light on the situation or can help with its interpretation is relevant, including the following:

  • Exchanges about absences before and after injury.
  • Discussions of the injury or medical conditions.
  • Performance reviews and other evaluations.
  • General or impersonal paperwork -- for example, an office newsletter that may reveal something about the employer's state of mind or common practices.

Don't Dawdle or Go It Alone

Speak to a labor lawyer who can provide precise guidance in your situation. The law is complex and there are statutory limits on how much time you have to file suit for wrongful termination.It is important to act immediately or you may lose the opportunity to fight for your rights.

Many attorneys take this type of employment matter on contingency and will not charge a fee for consultation or litigation. What that means is that you explain the situation and they decide whether to take a risk on your case. You will not pay for the benefit of their expertise unless they are able to secure a financial settlement or win in court. If they do, they get a percentage of the damages that is limited by law.

Potential Damages

If you are fired for your on-the-job-injury or for filing a workers' compensation claim and file suit, you will be entitled to compensation if your case succeeds. Again, the amount of damages due -- and even the type of reward -- will vary depending on the facts of your case and your claims.

What is certain, however, is that if you do not act, you will recover nothing, even if you were wrongfully terminated. That's a bitter pill to swallow after getting injured and fired.

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