Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance for employees that experience a work-related illness or injury. The arrangement can be a financial lifesaver for a household as the worker recuperates.
However, workers’ comp claims can negatively impact an employer through higher premiums, additional administrative costs and lost productivity. A company may go so far as to discourage an employee from filing a claim or to retaliate with threats, such as potential termination.
Protection through anti-retaliation laws
Employees have every right to file for workers’ compensation after job-related harm. Employment laws restrict employers from retaliating against employees for these claims.
For example, Section 287.780 of Missouri’s statutes declares that an employer or agent may not discriminate against a worker for exercising rights for workers’ compensation. If an employer brings any repercussions against an employee for reporting an injury or filing a claim, the individual can bring civil action against the company.
In Illinois, similar laws exist. Further, employers cannot discriminate against employees who acquire a disability that results from a workplace accident as long as the individual still qualifies to do the same assignment.
When an employer may fire an employee with a workers’ comp claim
Protections for employees who file workers’ comp claims do not mean businesses cannot terminate the injured employee at all. If the injured person cannot fulfill their duties after the injury, the employer might be able to release the worker if no reasonable accommodations are possible. Post-injury misconduct, general layoffs or a history of poor performance could also give the company grounds to fire the injured worker.
Proving that a firing was an act of retaliation can be challenging. The plaintiff must prepare to gather substantial evidence that the defendant’s legal team is unlikely to refute.