Filing a Workers’ Compensation claim can be stressful after a work-related injury happen. Not only is a worker trying to heal from an injury, the thought of losing time at work and possibly a job can be extremely overwhelming.
Workers’ Compensation protects injured workers and helps them receive compensation for lost wages and covers treatment for their injuries. Every state has differing employment laws regarding loss of employment because of an injury. Due to this, an injured worker may be worried about losing his or her job after a work accident happens.
Who is Eligible for Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
In Pennsylvania, Workers’ Compensation insurance covers most employees from the beginning of their first day at work, and it lasts the entire span of their employment. There are some employers that are exempt from providing coverage, such as federal employees or agricultural workers who may be given optional coverage.
Pennsylvania, like other states, follows at-will employment, which generally means that an employer could fire a worker for an unannounced reason without the fear of a counter lawsuit from that employee. However, this cannot be the sole reason an employer releases a worker from employment. Fortunately, there are laws that protect workers from being wrongfully terminated because of Workers’ Compensation claims.
Multiple Workers’ Compensation Claims
As with any Workers’ Compensation claim, it is always best to protect oneself by hiring a knowledgeable attorney. There are countless scenarios that could make a claim quite messy. Multiple claims can further complicate the process. A dedicated lawyer can help in this situation.
Technically, an employer cannot fire a worker solely based on multiple Workers’ Compensation claims. If a worker has suffered multiple injuries in one instance, then that claim would be treated as one entire claim. However, multiple claims on multiple incidents could raise an employers’ suspicions, or if a worker begins to experience injuries long after the original instance. That is why it is extremely important to have work injuries evaluated by a doctor immediately following an injury. Doing so will allow a worker to have legitimate medical documents for a case and can help in case against termination as well.
It is important to always remember that an employer cannot fire an employee because of a work-related injury; it is considered retaliation by an employer and that is illegal in Pennsylvania, among several other states.
However, a worker is still considered an at-will employee and is subject to termination. So, an employer could use another reason to terminate a workers employment. Contracted employees are normally protected from this scenario, who work under other circumstances, and their employers must abide to that contract.
Some reasons an employer can fire a worker include the following:
- A worker knowingly violated safety rules that may have contributed to an injury, such as incorrectly following hazmat rules while using chemicals.
- A worker was under the influence of alcohol or drugs during employment or when he or she was injured.
- An employer may also use a previous circumstance where a worker may have violated a rule that may have occurred months before the injury occurred.
Most employers are too keen to say that they are firing workers because of work accidents and injuries. There are certainly numerous reasons an employer would want to terminate someone while he or she is recovering from an injury, and it mostly comes down to money. Employers lose money by paying out Workers’ Compensation claims, and they are required by the state to carry the coverage.
Employers also must worry about refilling a worker’s position while he or she is recovering, this is where productivity may also be lost. This is usually the main reason an injured employee loses his or her job; if the time missed is an extended period, an employer must scramble to replace that job. Since this reason is not a legitimate reason to fire someone, it is illegal.
What Should I Do if I am Fired After a Worker’s Compensation Claim?
It is illegal for an employer to fire a worker because or he or she suffered a job-related injury or filed a Workers’ Compensation claim. If an employee believes that he or she was wrongfully terminated because of a work injury or a claim, it must be proven. Most likely, this will require the help of an experienced lawyer.
A worker must prove that he or she was retaliated against because of a work injury or claim. If an employer made threats, intimidated, or tried to coerce an injured worker into not filing a Workers’ Compensation claim, it is illegal and legal action should follow. If possible, try to keep all records of threats and obtain information from any witnesses. Additionally, make sure to log every time there is a conversation with the employer about the work-related injury or claim, whether it is a conversation through an email, phone call, or text message.
Of course, proving any adverse action an employer takes is tough to accomplish. Afterall, employers normally have a human resources department and a team of lawyers to protect them against lawsuits. However, this does not mean that an injured worker should be silent and not pursue legal action. That is why it is strongly recommended to hire a lawyer. A lawyer will protect the rights of an injured worker and help the worker obtain compensation.
Pittsburgh Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at AlpernSchubert P.C. Protect the Rights of Injured Workers
If you believe you were wrongfully terminated because of multiple Worker’ Compensation claims, then contact one of our respected Pittsburgh Workers’ Compensation lawyers at AlpernSchubert P.C. immediately. Our experienced lawyers protect injured workers and help them obtain the compensation that they rightfully deserve. Call us today at 412-765-1888 or complete our online form for a free consultation. Located in Pittsburgh, we proudly clients throughout western Pennsylvania, including Allegheny County, Lawrence County, and Washington County.