WORKERS COMPENSATION & JOB SECURITY- Will I be terminated for filing a workers comp claim?
One of the most common question I am asked, and for good reason, is in regards to job security and the filing of a Workers’ Compensation claim. For many, being able to provide for their family is the number one concern even if their health is at stake. This concern is legitimate and injured workers should be advised of all potential outcomes so they can make a truly educated decision which considers both their health and their familial needs. Will I get fired for filing a workers comp claim?
Unfortunately for the injured worker there is not much job protection provided by Maryland law in these circumstances and there is always the possibility, as slight as it may be, they are terminated for filing a workers compensation claim. Maryland is an at will employment state meaning that an employer can terminate an employee for almost any reason and the employee can terminate the employment relationship for almost any reason. This provides employers the opportunity to come up with some reason to terminate the employee. The labor and employment article does provide that the injured worker can not be terminated for filing a workers compensation claim. However, employers are very well aware of this protection so if they are considering termination they will, in a great majority of the cases, find some other reason to terminate the employee. The employer may be obligated under Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to keep the job available for the employee for 12 weeks if they are held out of work by a doctor.
For many it is not an easy decision to file a claim with the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission and they must closely consider the effect this will have on their family. When weighing the pros and cons of filing a workers comp claim there are certain considerations to keep in mind. The benefits provided under Maryland Workers Compensation are numerous and can mean a lot to those who are seriously injured. See benefits page. What must be considered if you are hurt on the job is how the injury could affect your ability to perform and how long you will be able to continue to perform to your employers standards. If the injury develops into something that prevents you from working then Workers comp benefits may be the only resort and any concern about being fired for filing a workers compensation claim will prove to be a non-issue.
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Should I file the workers compensation claim even if I risk being terminated?
When determining whether it is in the injury victims best interest to file a workers compensation claim the decision requires placing physical health at risk while preserving financial security, or placing financial security on the line while preserving physical health.
Many times the injured worker chooses not to file a claim and only years down the road realizes that the injury has materialized into a life altering condition. There may be the necessity for an emergency surgery for which health insurance refuses to pay. While job security is important to many, if the injured employee is being held out of work by a physician then finances may quickly become limited. The workers compensation payments are an absolute necessity when bills are due and expenses are accumulating. After only a short period of time the injured worker is barred from filing a claim with the Workers’ Compensation Commission and has no legal recourse to protect themselves financially and physically.
The obvious con is that there is a chance of losing employment. In my experience I have seen a positive correlation between getting terminated and duration of employment, job performance, wages, age, relationship with supervisors, and size of the company. These factors often, but not always play a part in the employers decision to retain an injured employee or find a reason to terminate them.
The decision to file a Maryland workers compensation claim is a serious one that should be discussed with an experienced workers comp attorney.
Were you terminate after a work accident, or terminated after filing a workers compensation claim?
On occasion an employee who is hurt on the job is quickly fired by their employer. Sometimes Maryland employers terminate their injured workers after decades of services, others terminate employees that recently started on the job. While this is not common practice it does unfortunately occur.
It is not fair to the employee that they lose their job over an accident, and it is certainly not justified however in most circumstances an employer can fire an employee for any reason they can find including “no reason at all.” The reasons for termination are numerous but unfortunately one common theory among employers and why they terminate injured workers is because of costs. Once an employee is hurt on the job workers compensation premiums increase, dramatically. For a company that has never had a workers comp claim this can be a devastating financial burden. Often these premiums can be quite expensive to begin with and an increase is not within their budget.
Another common reason injured employees are terminated by their employer is that the employee is seen as vulnerable to injury. Once a shoulder or knee is injured there is an increased risk of further injury in the future. Multiple injuries will increase the insurance premiums and could cost the employer more than if they were to hire and retrain.
For the most part it seems employers terminate their injured workers for selfish reasons. It is to save the company expenses and avoid future expenses. However, there are instances that the employer simply can not retain the injured worker as an employer. Often, in smaller companies, the absence of one employee for even a few weeks can cost the employer greatly. The smaller a company, the more important each roll the employee plays. The prolonged absence of an employee can lead to a break down of the inter workings of the company. Quick and efficient replacement of the injured employee is often the only option.
If the employee is terminated for filing a workers compensation case the case will not be significantly damaged
If the accident is a legitimate workers compensation case then the employer and/or their workers comp insurer will continue to be responsible to provide the benefits. It is important that any employee that was injured on the job and then terminated contact a workers compensation attorney to discuss their case. Depending on the scenario there may also be a claim for wrongful termination. Just because an employee is injured on the job does not mean they are “covered” under workers comp. If the employee was fired they need to make sure that all the right steps were taken to preserve any workers compensation claim they may have. Filing a claim with the workers comp insurance company is not enough! There must be a claim filed with the Workers Compensation Commission, there must be deadlines met, and there must be supportive medical records.