Fired for Being Unable Work due to Work Related Injury

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Life can change in an instant if you suffer from a work related injury.  An injury can leave you with a permanent or temporary disability that may leave you in significant pain and unable to earn an income. Employees who have been hurt, and their employers, often wonder whether the employees have a continued right to maintain their jobs after they suffer an injury.

An Employee May be Fired for a Work Related Injury in Some Instances

Most states have laws that make it illegal to fire an employee solely because the employee has suffered a workplace injury and made a claim.  However, an employee may be fired if the injury makes the employee unable to complete the employee’s essential job responsibilities. 

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that an employer make reasonable accommodations before firing an employee. For example, the employer may have to create a modified work schedule, provide modified equipment, or restructure the job to meet the needs created by the injury.  Most often, employers will make these accommodations if they can be done for a reasonable cost and if the employee only suffers a temporary disability.

If an employer does not want to make the necessary accommodations then the employer may pressure or harass the employee to leave the job.  Injury harassment is not an acceptable way for an employer to deal with a work injury and employees may bring lawsuits and collect damages for injury harassment.

Possible Damages when an Employee is Improperly Terminated

An employer who improperly terminated an injured employee may be liable for damages pursuant to state law. Damages may include:

  • Compensation for lost income;
  • Compensation for future lost income if an employee is not able to find a comparable job; and
  • All of the costs related to the injury. 

Many employers find that it is less expensive to make the necessary accommodations for an injured employee than to pay damages. 

Getting Help from a Labor Attorney

Employers who are considering firing an injured employee and an injured employee who is facing termination can benefit from contacting a labor lawyer.  An employment attorney can explain whether necessary accommodations can be made to the position to allow the employee to continue working, whether the employer is justified in making a termination, and whether the employee is entitled to any damages as a result of a termination.

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LA-NOLO4:DRU.1.6.2.20140917.28520