Workers’ Compensation was designed to protect workers in the event of work-related illness or injury. However, many workers do not report some injuries because they fear losing their jobs while off work recovering from an injury. Can an employee in Oklahoma be fired while off work on Workers’ Compensation? The answer is both yes and no; as with most issues falling under this state program, there are factors that apply which can change the answer. Any time you get fired while recovering on Workers’ Compensation, you need the services of an Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Attorney.
The Safety Net of Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ Compensation is meant to be a kind of “safety net” when employees suffer work-related injuries and need help to recover. But fear can often influence whether or not an injured employee takes advantage of this important benefit. What if you are fired while off work recovering from an injury? Will your safety net vanish?
Fortunately, Oklahoma law mandates that you still receive your Workers’ Compensation benefits until you have recovered or reached the point where further recovery is no longer expected, even if your employment is terminated. The benefits are paid by your employer’s insurance company and they follow the injured worker, not the whims or acts of the employer. This is guaranteed by Oklahoma Title 85a Workers’ Compensation Section 85A-7.
Legal Reasons for Termination While Recovering Away from Work on Workers’ Compensation
While the above-referenced section of Oklahoma State Law prohibits an employer from firing you because you file a claim for Workers’ Compensation after suffering an injury at work, there are some legal reasons why your job may be terminated even if you are recovering and unable to work.
If an employer can provide valid reasons for terminating your position, you can lose your job legally while off work on Workers’ Compensation. These can include:
- Planned layoffs
- Poor performance history
- Proven instances of misconduct
- Your job role is vital to the company and must be replaced
- The company goes bankrupt and fires all other employees
Your employer is required to make reasonable attempts to accommodate any work restrictions you may have after reaching a point where further recovery is not expected. They may offer you an alternative role with lighter duties. However, if your employer cannot reasonably accommodate your work restrictions, they may legally terminate your employment.
An experienced Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Attorney can provide seasoned counsel in such instances, and strong representation if your employer terminated your employment illegally.
Proving Illegal Termination Under Workers’ Compensation
If you believe your employer terminated your employment illegally because you filed a Workers’ Compensation claim, you have grounds to bring a lawsuit for damages. You must be able to prove that your employer deliberately singled you out to be fired related to your Workers’ Compensation claim and/or injury.
For example, if your firing occurred the same day of or immediately after you reported a work-related injury, you may have a strong case for an illegal firing. Your employer may have fired you to avoid filing an injury claim on their insurance and risking a jump in premiums.
Or, you may have been fired because your injury is a result of lax safety practices or violations of laws that mandate safety protocols. You may have been terminated in an effort to sever you from the company so you could not easily report violations or unsafe practices or conditions.
If you were fired while off work recovering from a work-related injury, you need to contact The Armstrong Law Firm, PLC immediately. Our skilled attorneys can review the circumstances of your case and determine if you were fired illegally. If so, our investigators can gather valuable evidence and pursue a claim against your employer under Oklahoma law.
Contact The Armstrong Law Firm, PLC in Tulsa today to request a free initial consultation to review your claim.