When you suffered a work-related injury in California, you are entitled to compensation for your medical expense and lost wages resulting from the workplace accident. Your employer is required to provide you with insurance coverage that should compensate you for the injuries. After a workplace injury, many people are afraid to file a workers' compensation claim for fear of losing their jobs. However, the law prohibits job termination in retaliation for filing a compensation claim.

The effects of workplace injuries could be life-changing, and losing your job could add to the financial complications. Therefore, if you believe that your employer is violating your rights by firing you after the injury, you can file a lawsuit against them. Employers may try to find alternative explanations to justify their actions. Therefore, seeking legal guidance in such situations is crucial. Your attorney will help you establish discrimination and unjust termination to ensure you recover the compensation you deserve.

Job Termination after Suffering a Work-Related Injury

Many people avoid filing workers' compensation claims for fear of losing their jobs. Instead of filing a claim to recover compensation for their losses, they will use their health insurance to cover the injuries and use their off days instead of seeking time off to recover from the injuries. However, doctors can detect work-related injuries and may decide to bill your employer’s workers' compensation insurance provider. This could leave you with no option but to sue your employer for compensation.

Your employer cannot legally fire you from your job in retaliation for filing the compensation claim. Also, an employer should not fire you as a result of work-related injuries or disabilities. California law prohibits the discrimination of employees after suffering job-related injuries. An employer who violates this law could face both a civil claim and a criminal case. Retaliating against an employee for filing a workers' compensation claim is a misdemeanor.

While filing a workers' compensation claim for your injuries, an employer can fire you. However, they must prove that the reasons for termination are not related to the compensation claim. Some alternative reasons why you can lose your job include:

  • Failure to pass a drug or alcohol test
  • Disagreements with your superiors
  • Failure to follow company rules
  • Failing to show up for work without a valid reason
  • Unethical conduct

If you believe that you are a victim of unjust termination, it would be wise to seek legal guidance.

The difference between a workers' compensation claim and a wrongful termination lawsuit is that workers' compensation offers benefits for workers who have suffered job-related injuries or illnesses. Also, you can file such a claim if you have existing injuries that were made worse by your workplace conditions. On the other hand, a wrongful termination lawsuit is a case you file against your employer if they fire you from your job as retaliation for seeking workers' compensation benefits. The law prevents employers from firing employees after workplace injuries. Therefore, you can be compensated for such action.

Medical Leave After a Workplace Injury

When you suffer a work-related injury, you may require some time off work to recover and receive treatment for your injuries. When a work injury requires you to take time off, your employer is expected to give you a work leave. If an employer fires you from your job for seeking a deserved medical leave, you can file a discrimination claim against them.

When you file a discrimination claim against your employer, the court will require you to demonstrate that you are eligible for a medical leave under the circumstances. Some of the situations that deserve a medical leave include:

  • Injuries requiring overnight stay in a health facility
  • Injuries that incapacitate you and require ongoing treatment
  • Injuries that cause disability and you need to undergo extensive treatments
  • Injuries make it impossible for you to return to your job position or perform alternative work in the company

Also, you must show that your employer took adverse measures like reducing your salary, denying you a bonus, or terminating your employment unjustly.

Work Modifications After a Job-related Injury

There are two main reasons why you may need work accommodations from your employer after a work-related injury, including:

  • Your injuries resulted in a partial disability. If you have suffered an injury and are not expected to make a full recovery, you could be considered partially disabled and require job modifications.
  • Your doctor imposes work restrictions. At some point during your recovery journey, the doctor could recommend that you return to work. However, the duties you can perform may be limited depending on the severity of your injuries and recovery progress.

There is no exact amount of time that you are allowed to remain on light or modified duty after a workplace injury. An employer can create temporary or permanent modified duties for workers with disabilities. If the light or modified duty is not available, your employer should inform you.

Modified or light duty is the adjusted work offered to a worker after job injuries to accommodate their physical limitations. After a job-related injury, your physical condition may make it impossible for you to continue performing your duties. There are two options that a worker can explore:

  • Stop working until the health condition improves
  • Perform easier and manageable tasks as they recover from the injury

When you seek medical care after a job-related injury, the doctor will determine your ability and the extent of work that you can do. Some employers prefer you to keep working, while others may opt to fire you due to increasing health insurance payments. Your doctor can impose some of these conditions depending on your disability status:

  • Heavy lifting restrictions
  • Restrictions on physical activity
  • Limitation to semi-sedentary or sedentary work
  • Restriction for repetitive movement
  • Limitation to working indoors away from fumes and dust
  • Restriction on prolonged standing, kneeling, or walking

In your medical records, the doctor will indicate your work restrictions, and your employer will determine if there is work within those restrictions. If your injuries are not severe, your doctor can recommend continuing with your regular job activities.

Often some employers fail to take your injuries and condition seriously and could refuse to modify your job role. When you fail to perform your job role correctly due to the injuries, these employers may opt to fire you, which is against the law. After recovery from work-related injuries, you expect to return to work and move on with your life. However, seeking workers' compensation could be met with discrimination from your employer.

Compensation Benefits for Unlawful Termination Lawsuit

California's Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibit several forms of employment discrimination, including termination for filing a worker's compensation claim for work-related injuries. If you were injured at work and then wrongfully discharged in retaliation for your claim, a lawsuit may bring you the following benefits:

Lost Earnings and Benefits

When you file a wrongful termination claim after a work injury, you stand to receive compensation for back pay, which is the amount you would have earned if with your employer. Lost earnings will cover regular pay and bonuses while putting into account salary increases and potential promotions. During compensation, the court assumes that you are expected to seek a job with similar pay. Therefore, you will recover compensation equal to what you would have earned with your former employer. With sufficient proof, benefits like health care and retirement savings may be included in the compensation.

Medical Expenses

Suffering a job loss after a workplace injury and losing your job can take a toll on your psychological and emotional health. Sometimes, emotional stress can manifest as a physical ailment. In a successful wrongful termination lawsuit, you can seek compensation for medical bills and counseling you needed for the emotional distress. However, it is crucial to understand that you will require proof of the expenses. Therefore, it is vital to keep the records if you seek counseling or treatment for emotional distress.

Cost of Job Searches

Job seekers are likely to incur high costs while attempting to find employment following wrongful termination. A work-related injury could take a toll on your finances since a worker's compensation could take some time to settle when you add the costs of seeking another employment. Recent studies show that individuals who included a claim for job search cost recovered a higher settlement in their wrongful termination lawsuit.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are the amount the court can order your employer to pay you for their discriminatory actions. Although most of the damages aim to reimburse you for the losses you have incurred from the wrongful termination, punitive damages are used to punish the employer and discourage them from similar actions in the future. Since there is no specific formula to calculate the punitive damages, the court awards the amount they see fit based on the circumstances of your case.

When you file a wrongful termination lawsuit against your employer for firing you after a work-related injury, the burden of proof lies on you. The court will require you to establish that termination of your job was a form of retaliation for filing a workers' compensation claim. Most employers will not accept liability for their actions and may find alternative explanations to justify the termination. Therefore, guidance from a competent attorney is vital.

Also, an employer may attempt to offer little settlement to avoid battling a lawsuit in court. It would be best if you did not rush to accept the first settlement before you understand the full scope of your case.

What Happens When Your Employer Fires You Due to Lack of Work Modified Duty After a Work-Related injury?

Suffering a work injury is a traumatic experience. You will deal with your injury and worry about the impact of the injuries on your life. Dealing with workers' compensation is quite stressful, especially when there is a possibility that you will lose your job. Most employers have to make reasonable accommodations for their injured workers instead of firing them after the injuries. If your employer fails to make reasonable accommodations to return to work, you may be entitled to temporary disability injuries. When your injuries don't disable you permanently, you can file for partial disability benefits to help you through as you recover to full capacity. If your injuries fail to recover or your condition worsens, you can transit to permanent disability.

You are eligible for temporary disability if your injury prevents you from returning to the job position you held before. Temporary benefits cover the difference between what you earn with your injuries and what you would have earned typically. When you receive temporary disability benefits, you may need to make regular visits to your doctor for assessment. If the physician determines that your injury has recovered, you can return to work.

Seeking disability benefits can be complicated, especially when your employer does not have a modified job to offer while recovering from your injuries. Therefore, seeking legal guidance will go a long way for you through the workers' compensation process. 

Find a Wrongful Termination Attorney

California law prohibits employers from discriminating or terminating an employee in retaliation for bringing a worker's compensation claim. Employers have the responsibility to ensure that you work in a safe environment. Therefore, you are entitled to compensation for work-related injuries, and bringing a claim should not be a basis to terminate you. While a workers compensation claim, your employer cannot fire you unless it is for a reason unrelated to the claim.

After a workplace injury, your employer should not only give you your job back but should also make reasonable adjustments in case of injury or disability. Unfortunately, many employers may opt to fire the employee, which is against the law. Damages available for a wrongful discharge claim may include reinstatement, attorney fees, and lost earnings. If you or your loved one suffers a wrongful termination, you will require competent legal guidance. At Stop Unpaid Wages, we will fight to help you recover the workers' compensation you deserve without fear of losing your job. Also, we ensure that all our clients who are victims of wrongful termination recover what they are owed. Contact us today at 424-781-8411 from any Location In California.