Fired After Being Hurt at Work
If you experience certain work-related injuries, under California law, your employer or their insurer may be required to provide you with workers’ compensation benefits. Unfortunately, not all employers deal with work-related injuries in the proper manner, and some may attempt to retaliate against an injured worker by terminating his or her employment. At the Law Office of Joseph Richards, our Orange County workers’ compensation lawyers have the knowledge of California workers’ compensation law needed to guide injured workers through the process of pursuing benefits, and we can help injured workers deal with certain obstacles to recovery of benefits. We can also assist workers with bringing employment-related claims when they have been fired after being hurt at work.Bringing a Claim for Retaliatory Termination
California is an at-will employment state, which means that an employee can be terminated at any time for any non-discriminatory reason, unless the termination falls under one of the statutory or common-law exceptions prohibiting termination. One exception to the at-will employment rule is found in the California Labor Code, which essentially prohibits an employer from terminating an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim. Employers are also essentially prohibited from terminating an employee for testifying at the workers’ compensation hearing of a co-worker.
If an employee believes that he or she was terminated in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim, he or she must file a specific type of complaint with the California Division of Workers’ Compensation within one year of the termination. The employer may attempt to set forth a defense that the termination was not due to the employee’s injury or the subsequent filing of a workers’ compensation claim but was precipitated by another factor, such as incompetence or reduction in work force.
If you were fired after being hurt at work, it is important to obtain evidence in support of your position if the termination was retaliatory rather than a result of any other cause. A skilled workers’ compensation attorney can anticipate which defenses an employer may attempt to set forth to justify termination, and an attorney can gather and present evidence to refute an employer’s arguments, such as personnel records and performance reviews.De Facto Termination
In some cases, an employer will not explicitly terminate the injured employee, but they will refuse to reinstate the employee to the position that he or she held prior to the injury. Depending on the facts of the situation, a failure to reinstate an employee can be a functional termination. While an employer is not required to allow an employee to return to a job that he or she is no longer able to perform, if the employee is merely impaired in performing job duties, the employer may be required to provide the employee with reasonable accommodations.
Similarly, an employer may not required to permit an employee to return to a position if the position is one that is no longer available. If the employee can prove that the employer’s claim that the job is no longer available is false and is motivated by a retaliatory intent, however, he or she may be able to recover damages. Determining whether a failure to reinstate an injured employee is effectively a retaliatory termination requires an analysis of the specific facts of a case. An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can evaluate the circumstances regarding an injury and an employer’s refusal to reinstate an injured worker to a prior position to assess whether it may constitute a de facto termination.Damages for Retaliatory Termination
An employee who suffered a retaliatory discharge from employment may be entitled to a discretionary 50% increase in workers’ compensation benefits, up to $10,000. The employee may also entitled to reinstatement of his or her previous employment and payment of work benefits and wages lost following the termination.Meet With an Orange County Attorney Today
Dealing with the hardships caused by a work-related injury, whether it is a back injury, a head injury, a broken bone, or another type of injury, is stressful enough without needing to deal with the additional difficulties caused by being fired after being hurt at work. At the Law Office of Joseph Richards, our attorneys can aggressively advocate on an injured worker’s behalf to help recover the benefits owed. We have an office in Orange County and a second office in the Inland Empire, and we represent people seeking workers’ compensation benefits in cities such as Santa Ana, Costa Mesa, Anaheim, Irvine, Moreno Valley, Corona, Temecula, El Centro, Long Beach, San Bernardino, Fontana, Rancho Cucamonga, and San Diego. We assist injured workers in other cities in Orange, Riverside, Imperial, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and San Diego Counties as well. Contact us to set up a consultation at (844) 562-2667 or via our online form.