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Can I Get Fired For Filing A Workers’ Compensation Claim?

Posted in Uncategorized on November 2, 2021

If you sustain an on-the-job injury and file a workers’ compensation claim, you should be able to recover full compensation for your medical bills and a significant portion of your lost wages. However, what happens if your employer terminates you for filing a work injury claim?

There are strict laws related to retaliation against an employer for filing a workers’ compensation claim. Here, we want to discuss whether or not an employer is allowed to terminate an employee after a workplace injury as well as steps the employee can take if this does happen.  

Your Employer in AZ Cannot Fire Your Solely Due to the Work Injury

Even though Arizona is an at-will state when it comes to employment, meaning they can terminate you for just about any reason, firing someone because they sustained a workplace injury and filed a workers’ compensation claim is generally not acceptable. In Arizona, and in just about every other state in this country, there are exceptions to when a at-will employee can be fired:

  1. Retaliation. An employer cannot fire a person out of retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim. However, proving that this is the reason a person lost their job can be difficult. If a person believes they were terminated out of retaliation for filing a work injury claim, they have to have evidence that there was no other reason why they were fired.
  2. Discrimination. If a work-related injury has left a person with a disability that prevents them from performing their job, the employer could terminate the employment. However, the employer has an obligation to provide reasonable accommodations if doing so would allow the person to continue their job. Reasonable accommodations will only count if the person who sustained the injury has a disability recognized under ADA. 
  3. Breach of contract. If an individual and their employer have a signed employment contract, it may have a section about workers’ compensation claims. A valid employment contract should include information about whether or not the job is protected if workers’ compensation benefits are received.

When Your Employer May be Able to Terminate Your Employment After a Work injury

There are exceptions to every rule, including rules that prohibit the firing of at-will employees after a job-related injury. This is because the system has to be fair to employers as well, at least to a certain extent. Some of the reasons why an employer may be able to legally terminate an employee who has filed for workers’ compensation benefits include the following:

  • This is a small business that cannot function without a person in the specific position the injured employee filled. The employer would likely be permitted to hire a new person if there is no other option and if the business would suffer without someone in that role.
  • If the employee returns to work but is unable to perform the job at the same level they could before the injury.
  • There is not another position that would accommodate the employee’s new post-injury physical capacity.
  • Making accommodations in the workplace would be an unreasonable financial hardship to the employer, even if the disability is recognized by ADA.

If you believe that you have been wrongfully terminated after sustaining a work injury and filing a workers’ compensation claim, you need to speak to a Phoneix workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible. Let a lawyer examine the case and help you determine the best steps moving forward for your situation.