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What Happens If I Get Fired While On Workers’ Comp in New York

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Know your rights if your job is terminated while on workers’ comp

Get legal advice from an experienced New York workers’ compensation attorney

The potential for being fired while on workers' comp raises questions about your rights, legal protections, and the future of your career and financial stability. New York law offers specific safeguards to prevent unjust treatment of workers in such situations. However, the application of these protections can vary depending on the circumstances of the termination.

Whether you're currently facing this scenario or want to prepare yourself with knowledge for the future, it’s important to understand the implications of being fired while on workers’ comp in New York. An experienced attorney can explain your rights and advocate for you. Schedule a free consultation to learn how.

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If you were hurt on the job, it’s important to understand the benefits you're entitled to and the protections afforded to you under the law. These protections prevent employees from being unduly penalized for exercising their rights to workers' comp benefits. They include:

Anti-retaliation laws

New York State law prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for filing a workers' compensation claim. This means that an employer can’t fire, demote, or otherwise discriminate against an employee simply because they have claimed workers' comp benefits.

Job security

While workers' comp laws don’t guarantee job protection, several other laws do. For example, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act may provide some employees with job security while they are unable to work due to a job-related injury.

Termination is considered wrongful if an employer fires an employee primarily for filing a workers' compensation claim. Such actions are deemed retaliatory and can give you grounds for a legal claim against your employer.

Employees must demonstrate that their workers' comp claim was a significant factor in the employer's decision to terminate. This can be challenging and often requires the help of an experienced attorney.

If you’re unable to return to work because of an injury, employers are not required to hold the job indefinitely. However, employers should explore reasonable accommodations or alternative positions before considering termination.

While New York's workers' compensation laws provide certain protections for employees receiving benefits, they don’t render employees immune to termination. Employers can legally terminate an employee on workers' comp under several circumstances, provided the reasons for termination are not retaliatory and don’t violate other employment laws.

The most common reasons include:

  • Pre-existing performance problems
  • Inability to meet job requirements
  • Violation of company policies
  • Criminal activity
  • Downsizing resulting in a layoff
  • Closure of business units

Here are a couple of examples of getting fired while on workers’ comp:

  • An employee on workers' comp for a back injury is terminated after being caught embezzling company funds. The termination is lawful since it’s based on a violation of company policy, not the workers' comp claim.
  • An employee is laid off as part of a company-wide reduction in force due to declining sales. The layoff includes several employees, not just those on workers' comp. This shows that it’s not retaliatory but economical.

Will my workers’ comp benefits continue if I lose my job?

In New York, if you are fired from your job while receiving workers' compensation benefits, your benefits should generally continue. Workers' compensation insurance is obligated to cover the cost of medical care related to your injury, regardless of your employment status. Wage replacement benefits are based on the nature and severity of your injury, not your job status.

It’s important to inform your workers' compensation insurance carrier if you've been fired. Changes in your employment status could affect certain aspects of your claim, such as eligibility for vocational rehabilitation services or efforts to return to work.

If you find yourself in this situation, it's important to know which steps to take to protect your rights and financial security. Immediate actions to consider taking include:

  • Seeking legal advice: Contact a lawyer who is experienced in employment law or workers' compensation cases as soon as possible. They can help you understand your rights, evaluate the circumstances of your termination, and determine whether you have grounds for a wrongful termination claim.
  • Secure documentation: Gather and secure any documentation related to your employment and workers' comp claim. This should include your employment contract, performance reviews, correspondence with your employer, and records of your injury and workers' comp filings.

If you’re filing a wrongful termination claim, understand your grounds. With the help of your lawyer, assess whether your termination was retaliatory or violated any state or federal laws. If your lawyer advises that you have a valid claim, proceed with filing a wrongful termination lawsuit against your employer. Your attorney will guide you through the legal process, from filing the necessary paperwork to representing you in court.

In the meantime, you can look into collecting unemployment benefits. Being on workers' comp does not automatically disqualify you from receiving unemployment, but there may be specific considerations based on your ability to work.

Additionally, if your injury prevents you from returning to your previous job, you may be eligible for vocational rehabilitation services through the New York State Workers' Compensation Board. These services help injured workers develop new skills and find employment in a different field.

Your rights and options are not always clear when filing a workers’ compensation claim. That’s why it’s best to seek legal guidance from an experienced New York workers’ compensation lawyer.

You have nothing to lose by hiring a lawyer. They work on a contingency fee structure, so you don’t have to pay upfront for their services. You only pay if you’re compensated to the fullest extent. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your claim, reach out to a New York attorney for a free consultation.

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