No, you cannot be fired. It is against the law for employers to fire workers because they have filed a Pennsylvania workers’ compensation claim. It is rare for an employer to make the mistake of telling an employee that they are being fired due to a workers’ compensation claim. Most employers are aware that this would likely lead to an employment discrimination lawsuit. However, if your employer fires you and you suspect it is because of your workers’ compensation claim, you should try to gather evidence immediately.
Can you lose your job if you’re permanently injured?
Nonetheless, if you are on disability for an extended period of time, there is a chance you may be replaced and your job will not remain available for you. Unless you are a union member or have an employment contract, employers are not required to hold your job open or provide employee benefits like health insurance while you recover.
Thus, if you are out of work and receiving workers’ compensation benefits, your employer may be able to fire you or lay you off if they cannot reasonably accommodate your physical restrictions. In such a case, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits if you are not receiving workers’ compensation benefits.
What if my doctor says I have permanent work restrictions?
If you have fully recovered from your workplace injury or occupational disease, or have reached maximum medical improvement, you should discuss with your doctor whether you have any permanent work restrictions. If you have fully recovered, it is highly unlikely that you have any permanent work restrictions due to your work-related injury. To the extent you have any permanent work restrictions, you must discuss these restrictions with your employer. Your employer is required to make reasonable efforts to accommodate your new work restrictions so that you can perform your job. If your employer can reasonably accommodate you, your employer must accommodate you.
What happens if I can’t return to my job?
If your employer cannot accommodate your work restrictions after you have reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI), your employer is allowed to terminate your employment. This is typically the case where the nature of the job is such that someone with your restrictions simply cannot perform the job. If you physically cannot return to your job, your employer may terminate your employment.
Your employer has the option of offering you alternative, light duty work. Most often, this occurs when an employer offers you a different position in the company with less vigorous physical requirements.
In many cases, if you cannot return to your job, you are eligible for additional workers’ compensation benefits. This could include vocational retraining or potentially a pension through permanent and total disability benefits.
In addition, an employer does not have to maintain your health insurance or other benefits while you are receiving workers’ compensation benefits. You may, for example, receive what is called a COBRA Notice, allowing you to pay for medical insurance at your own expense. If you do, you should discuss this with your attorney.
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