When you get hurt at work, you should be entitled to workers compensation benefits. After all, if it weren’t for your job, you wouldn’t have gotten injured in the first place. Imagine having your workers comp claim in Florida be approved only to find out a few weeks (or days) later that you’ve been fired. It may seem illegal. It certainly feels wrong. Who would fire an employee who is recovering from a work-related injury or illness?
Well, a lot of companies engage in this practice. There are several reasons for this, some of which we will discuss throughout this article. While it may seem like a cruel thing to do, sometimes, employers have a good reason for doing this. It may not seem like it at the time – in fact, being fired never seems right. Your Ft. Lauderdale workers compensation lawyer would agree.
If you have recently been terminated while out on workers compensation, you need to talk to an attorney right away. If you do have rights, you need to work to protect them immediately. The more time that goes by, the harder it will be to address the issue. Our Ft. Lauderdale workers compensation lawyers may be able to help. The only way to find out is to call and schedule your free, initial consultation.
Florida is an At-Will State
Florida is an at-will employment state. This means that your employer can fire you at any time, for any reason, or for no reason at all. Even if you have a contract with them, they can still let you go. You may have a claim for breach of contract, but that won’t stop them from terminating you. Not only is this practice common in the U.S., but Montana is the only state that isn’t an at-will employment state.
Of course, your employer is not the only one who benefits from this arrangement. Because you do live in an at-will state, you can quit your job at any time without any hassle from your employer. They can’t force you to work for them. Similarly, if you have a contract with your employer, that doesn’t mean you can’t leave. It just means that they would have a potential breach of contract claim against you.
Did Your Employer Give a Reason for Your Termination?
Before you meet with your Ft. Lauderdale workers compensation lawyer, you should try to find out why you were fired. Typically, your employer will give you some reason, even if you don’t think it’s the actual reason they let you go. Perhaps you had been written up for attendance prior to your workplace accident. Or you may have been performing sub-par for quite some time in the months leading up to your injury.
Whatever the reason may be, you want to communicate this to your attorney. If you have this information prior to your initial consultation, it will make it a lot easier for your attorney to explain your options.
Your Ft. Lauderdale Workers Compensation Lawyer Can Request Copies of Any Personnel Records
Some companies have no problem giving an employee a copy of their personnel file. Others refuse to do so, claiming it is their proprietary information. They may even cite confidentiality as the reason, despite the fact that the file is about you. What your Ft. Lauderdale workers compensation lawyer will do is request a copy of the file from your employer. If they refuse to give them your lawyer, then it may be time to file suit.
If they are this insistent on keeping the file from you, maybe there’s something in there that they don’t want you to see. Once you sue, they’ll be required to provide this information as part of discovery. Hopefully, it won’t come to that. However, your attorney needs to do whatever they can to prepare your case. This includes having a copy of your disciplinary records and performance reviews.
If You Are Fired, Can You Sue for Wrongful Termination?
One thing a lot of our clients ask us is if they can sue their employer for wrongful termination. While you legally have the right to do this, it may not be worth your time. As explained here, Florida is an at-will state which gives your employer the right to fire you at will. Unless you show that you were fired for discriminatory purposes, or, in your case, in retaliation, you won’t have a shot at winning this sort of case.
In fact, most Ft. Lauderdale workers compensation lawyers would not want to represent you in this kind of case. The odds of winning them are so low that they would probably never be able to recover their costs and fees.
Just Because You’re Out on Worker’s Comp Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Be Fired
It may be hard to believe that your employer is allowed to fire you while you’re collecting workers compensation. However, they have the right to do this. There are several reasons for this. For one thing, a lot of employees who know they’re close to being fired will fake a workplace injury to avoid termination. They figure they will at least buy themselves a few months (or longer) of workers compensation benefits before they are fired.
There are also cases where an employee was in danger of being fired for attendance or performance, but their employer hadn’t gotten around to firing them yet. Or they may have hoped things would turn around but have no hope that it’ll happen now that you’ve filed a workers compensation claim in Florida.
It May Be in Your Best Interest to Meet with a Ft. Lauderdale Workers Compensation Lawyer
If you were terminated after filing a workers compensation claim in Florida, you should contact our office. While you probably don’t have a case for wrongful termination, that doesn’t mean a Ft. Lauderdale workers compensation lawyer can’t help. They may be able to negotiate some sort of payout or severance from your employer. Or you may need them to help you in case your employer decides to terminate your workers comp benefits as well. Either way, it’s a good idea to call and schedule your free, initial consultation as soon as possible.