Many of our workers’ compensation clients are fearful of being laid off or fired from their job while they are out of work, and their workers’ compensation case remains open. In some cases, the employer may have illegally retaliated against the injured worker just because they filed for workers’ compensation benefits. This is highly illegal, offensive, and flatly against the law. Of course, no employer will ever admit to this. If you suspect discrimiantion or retaliation, you should notify the District Office handling your workers’ compensation case immediately. Also, you should immediately seek legal counsel. Making wrongful discharge claims back against your employer will start a real fight.
However, your employer may have fired you for reasons entirely unrelated to your injury and your workers’ compensation claim. And if you have been laid off from work, your layoff might be due to budget cuts or other unforeseen economic downturns (like the Pandemic). A layoff or firing is nothing that you can plan for in advance. In addition, you may have concerns as to whether your workers’ compensation benefits will continue even if you get fired or if you are laid off from work. If you are fired or laid off, do you lose your eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits?
What Happens If You are Fired or Laid Off?
If you were already receiving, or eligible to receive, workers’ compensation benefits when you were laid off from work or fired, then you will continue to receive your benefits. Since you were injured while working on the job, your eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits remains in place. As with all workers’ compensation claims, the benefits that you are eligible to continue to receive are determined based on your job status and your continuing need for medical care and treatment.
Likewise, your layoff does not stop your receipt of workers’ compensation benefits. You may have been laid off from work because of economic factors that have no relation to your injury claim. Even in the event that your employer goes out of business or files for bankruptcy, your workers’ compensation benefits should not be affected because your benefits are normally paid by your (former) employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company.
Can My Employer Fire Me in Retaliation?
No. Your employer can’t fire you just because you were injured at work and made a workers’ compensation claim. This is prohibited by law. Your employer cannot discharge or discriminate against you because the employee has a workers’ compensation case. This just means that your employer will need to find another justification to fire you. In most cases, Connecticut employees are hired on an at-will basis. A Connecticut employer has the right to fire an employee for any reason. They can also fire for no reason at all. If your job is essential and your employer needs someone else to fill the position, they have the right to replace you. In this case, it’s possible that your job is gone by the time you are physically able to return to work. Not much can be done to prevent the loss of your job under those circumstances.
Also, keep in mind that if you were offered light duty work, even if outside of your normal work, and even if for a lower pay rate, you must accept the offered light duty work. Under our workers’ compensation law, if light duty is available, and the employee declines suitable light duty work, the employee can lose the right to collect workers’ compensation benefits, and the employee could then even be discharged.
If you feel you were terminated solely because you filed for workers’ compensation, you could get additional compensation under the law. Also, you might have a civil claim against your former employer for wrongful termination under our employment laws which mandate reasonable requests for workplace accommodations.
Call our firm to learn more about your Connecticut workers’ compensation options. You are not required to hire our firm even after your free consultation, so contacting us and having your questions answered is easy. Contact us today!