Being fired while receiving workers’ compensation does not seem fair, but is it legal? The short answer is that it is legal to fire an employee who is receiving workers’ compensation, but an employer cannot fire an employee simply for filing a workers’ comp claim.
Confused? Let’s take a closer look at workers’ compensation and whether you can be fired while you are receiving it.
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation insurance (also called workers’ comp) covers employees and provides benefits if they get injured or become ill while at work. Benefits help cover things like:
- Medical expenses
- Missed wages
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Funeral costs
Florida requires every person working for another person, firm, group, or corporation to have workers’ comp, including all lawfully and unlawfully employed immigrants and minors, with only a few exceptions.
Can I Be Fired While Getting Workers’ Compensation in Florida?
Yes. Since Florida is an “at-will” state, your employer can fire you at any time for any legal reason. Having said that, firing an employee because they filed for workers’ comp is considered retaliation, which is illegal in Florida.
What Is an “At-Will” State?
Florida is an at-will employment state, which means you are employed at the will of the employer, who can take away your employment at any time, for any legal reason. If you cannot work for a few weeks or months while you heal and your employer needs to hire somebody else to do your job, they are allowed to fire you. Workers’ compensation does not require your employer to hold your job open for you.
However, even in an at-will state like Florida, your employer cannot fire you as retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim.
Can I Be Fired Because I’m Getting Workers’ Compensation?
No. Firing an employee simply because they filed for workers’ comp is considered retaliation, which is illegal in Florida. You should know, though, that your employer will likely claim they had another reason for firing you. You need an experienced workers’ comp lawyer like those at Work Injury Rights on your side to prove your employer retaliated against you for filing workers’ compensation.
Will I Still Get Workers’ Compensation After Being Fired?
In most cases, your former employer’s insurance company must keep paying temporary partial or total disability benefits, even after your employer fires you.
How to Prove Retaliation
Proving to a court that your employer retaliated against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim is not easy, but it is possible. Here are the things you must show to prove retaliation.
The Existence of a Statutorily Protected Expression
In this case, the statutorily protected expression is your workers’ compensation claim. Whether your employer fired you immediately after your injury or while you were recovering several months down the road, you are still allowed to file for workers’ comp without fear of retaliation.
A Negative Employment Action
You do not have to be fired to experience negative employment action after filing for workers’ compensation, although that may be the most common reason to file a claim against your former employer. Other types of negative employment actions that could count as retaliation include demotion, harassment, or forcing you to do menial work.
A Causal Connection
You must be able to prove that filing a workers’ compensation claim caused you to be fired or suffer from other negative employment actions. If you can prove that your employer fired you specifically because you filed for workers’ comp, they must prove that they fired you for another reason.
Your employer may show that they had lawful reasons to fire you, such as excessive absenteeism, poor job performance, or another valid reason.
Consult a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today
Do you believe you were fired in retaliation for filing for workers’ compensation? Contact the experienced Florida workers’ compensation lawyers at Work Injury Rights today by using our form or calling 954-833-5226. We have 8 Florida locations to serve you: Coral Springs, Sunrise, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, Coral Gables, Ft. Myers, Tampa, and Orlando.
At Work Injury Rights, we have the experience to help you receive compensation after you were unfairly fired for getting workers’ comp. We offer free consultations to discuss your case, and you only pay if we get you money.