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Can I Get Fired While On Workers’ Compensation In Florida?

Workers’ comp laws were meant to protect and help workers who sustain injuries or illnesses while at work or because of their job. However, many Fort Myers workers have hesitated to file a workers compensation claim for fear of a negative reaction, usually termination, from their employer. A workers’ comp lawyer discusses why employees should not worry about retaliation from their employers and what they can do should they be terminated because of their workers’ compensation claim.

Workers often sustain injuries or illnesses while on the job or as a result of the nature of their work. Work-related injuries have resulted in short-term and life-long disabilities, as well as fatalities. In all three cases, work-related injuries and illnesses result in diminished income. It is for this reason that the workers’ compensation laws were established in addition to OSHA safety standards.

You Get Fired For Filing A Workers’ Compensation Claim?

The quick answer: no. In Florida, it is illegal to fire someone for filing a workers’ compensation claim.

Employers are required to have workers’ compensation insurance that will help their employees who get injured at or because of their work. However, too many cases involve a worker getting fired a few months after getting injured and filing a workers’ comp under the guise of budget cuts or financial struggles. Employers often do not want to pay for workers’ comp because high rates of workplace injuries increase the employers’ premium for insurance. However, this is not an excuse to terminate a workers’ employment to avoid paying for their workers’ compensation. In Florida, firing someone for filing a workers’ compensation claim is prohibited, and this is called “retaliation.”

Retaliation: In Depth

Retaliation involves any negative action taken by an employer toward an employee for an action the latter has done. Retaliation covers various activities, such as speaking out about a harassment, illegal conduct, refusing to work in unsafe situations, as well as filing for workers’ comp. If you believe that your employer retaliated against you for filing a workers compensation claim, you may file a case against them. However, when you do, you will need to prove the retaliation.

Proving Retaliation

If you live in Fort Myers, or anywhere in Florida, you must be able to prove to the court that your employer retaliation as a result of your filing or planning to file a workers’ comp claim. Here are things you need to prove:

The Existence Of A Statutorily Protected Expression

The statutorily protected expression, in this case, is workers’ compensation claim. For instance, if you were fired a few months after you filed for workers’ compensation claim. However, it is also possible that your employer fired you immediately after your injury or, in other words, when they know you will file a workers’ comp.

A Negative Employment Action

The next thing you need to prove is the negative action your employer took toward you. More often than not, this involves getting fired from your job, but you should keep note that it could take other forms. Anything negative may be considered negative employment action, such as harassment, demotion, forcing your to do menial jobs, and so on.

A Causal Connection

Finally, you need to establish a causal connection between filing a workers’ compensation claim
and your termination of employment. This is the more challenging aspect to prove because you need concrete proof of your employers’ intent. To do this, you need to establish that your employer was aware of your workers’ compensation claim and that they ended your employment because of it. This proof needs to be strong because the employer will try to undermine these with lawful reasons for your termination. Your employer may show proof of reasons such as poor performance, excessive absenteeism, and so on.

Fight For What Is Yours

A lot of workers hesitate to file workers’ compensation claims because of potential retaliation from their employers. But this should not be a deterrent. Workers’ compensation is meant to help workers who sustain injuries or illness from their jobs, so employees should not be barred from it. If you believe that your employer retaliated against you because of your workers’ compensation claim, speak with a workers’ comp lawyer in Fort Myers right away.

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