But unfortunately, some employers are not always ready to be sympathetic, or even recognize the validity of a workers comp claim. And in some cases, they respond in unreasonable, even illegal ways in order to avoid honoring the workers comp agreement.
In some of the worst cases, a person will find themselves injured while on the job, and unable to work for a period of time while they recover, only to find they no longer have a job to return to once they’ve recovered; they’ve been fired or laid off. This is actually an illegal action on the part of an employer and is called retaliatory discharge.
Under normal circumstances, an employee is released from a job for one of two reasons. Getting “laid off” means the position is no longer available simply because there is no money available to pay a person in that position. This is a financial reason meant to preserve the company by getting rid of jobs. On the other hand, getting dismissed, or fired, normally happens only if an employee fails to do the job they were hired to do at a reasonable level of competence. Or, in other cases, because of behavior that is unacceptable, such as theft, violence against other employees, harassment, or other disruptive actions.
If a company is in sound financial health, and the person is doing their job competently, with no disruptions to the workplace, then dismissing that employee for any other reason is illegal. A person can’t be fired because they are the wrong gender, the wrong color of skin, or because they must recover from an injury that was probably not their fault.
If someone files for workers comp, and is shortly after dismissed from a job, this is illegal in the state of Flori-da and is classified as retaliation. This is something that a workers comp lawyer can help with, provided that the person affected is able to meet three crucial conditions.
The person must present a statutorily protected expression, in this case, the filing of the workers comp claim. Workers comp is protected legally, so having records of the claim gets the ball rolling.
The second is showing an adverse employment action. This is also fairly easy to produce, as the actual firing or dismissal is the adverse reaction. So this won’t be much of an issue.
The final piece is establishing a casual connection between the filing of works comp and the dismissal. In this case, the employee simply has to show that the employer knew about the workers comp filing, and that a dismissal followed. Once this connection has been established, it is up to the employer to prove that the dismissal occurred for reasons other than the workers comp filing.
If you’re in this situation, don’t think that getting fired is the sad end of your story. Fight back, talk to a workers’ compensation attorney and set the record straight. An employer cannot get away with firing people just because they asked for the compensation that they are legally due.