Can You Lose Your Job While on Workers’ Compensation?

By: Shulman & Hill

Can I lose my job while on workers’ compensation? In New York, employers cannot fire you for filing workers’ compensation. However, employers are not required to hold your job open and can terminate your employment for other reasons.

New York is an at-will employment state, meaning your employer can terminate you for any reason or without giving a reason at all. However, employers cannot fire employees for certain unlawful reasons, such as discrimination. Under New York law, firing employees in retaliation for filing a workers’ comp claim is unlawful discrimination. However, they can fire you for other reasons, such as scaling back operations or financial difficulties.

Key Takeaways

  • New York is an at-will employment state, which means your employer can fire you at any time for any reason or no reason, as long as it isn’t for an unlawful reason.
  • In New York, it is unlawful for employers to fire an employee in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim.
  • If your employer wrongfully terminates you for filing a workers’ comp claim, you can still receive benefits and may also have a valid civil case against your employer.

Navigating Return To Work After Filing a Workers' Compensation Claim

If you’re injured or sickened in the course of your employment, you can and should file a workers’ compensation claim. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system that provides valuable benefits such as medical care, lost wages replacement, and reimbursement for other costs related to workplace injuries or illnesses.

Many workers suffer injuries severe enough to prevent them from returning to work or resuming normal duties immediately. Ideally, your employer will work with you to create a smooth pathway for returning to work. Most injured workers heal completely and return to their job as soon as their health care provider clears them for regular work.

Sometimes, a doctor will prescribe light duties, either temporarily or permanently. If a doctor clears you to return to work with certain restrictions, such as no prolonged standing or heavy lifting, your employer may provide “light duty.”

Employers are not necessarily required to provide “light duty.” For instance, if the employer has no position available that suits the employee’s restrictions, they don’t have to create one. However, the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and the New York State Human Rights Law do require employers to make reasonable accommodations as long as doing so does not create an undue hardship for the employer.

What Happens if I Get Fired While on Workers' Compensation?

Can you be fired while on workers’ comp? Unfortunately, your employer can terminate your employment while you are on workers’ comp. Because New York is an at-will employment state, your employer can terminate you any time without explanation or warning. However, the law protects you from being fired as retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim. Situations where termination would be legal even after you filed a claim include:

  • Performance issues – Your employer can fire you for poor job performance, violation of company policies, or illegal or unethical activities.
  • Company-related issues – You may be let go due to company restructuring or internal financial issues.
  • Other reasons – Your employer can terminate your employment for any reason as long as it isn’t for an unlawful reason, such as retaliation for a work-related injury.

Retaliatory termination is unlawful in New York. Specifically, an employer may not discriminate against an employee who files or attempts to file a workers’ compensation claim or testifies about a work-related injury or illness.

Receiving Workers' Compensation After Being Fired

If your employer fires you, any workers’ compensation benefits you are entitled to will continue without interruption. This ensures you receive the financial support you need without interruption until you fully recover and can work again.

New York’s workers’ compensation system covers work-related injuries even if the employer no longer employs you. The law ensures an employee can file a new workers’ compensation claim for a valid job-related injury or illness even after termination.

Steps To Take After Being Fired

If your employer fires you while you’re on workers’ comp, ask them for a specific reason for the termination. Document everything thoroughly to protect your rights. Write down the date of the event, what was said to you, and the names of any witnesses. Also, preserve any written communications, such as emails, memos, or texts, that can provide evidence of discrimination.

New York Code gives you the right to file a claim under the New York State Workers’ Compensation Discrimination law. If your case is successful, you may receive damages, back pay, and interest.

A claim alleging unlawful discrimination by an employer must be filed with the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board within two years of the incident. In addition to damages, an employer may be ordered to pay penalties for violating the law.

To learn more about your rights, consult a qualified attorney. Your lawyer can also take quick action and gather the evidence necessary to prove your wrongful retaliation claim.

What Happens to My Workers' Compensation if I Resign?

If you quit your job while collecting workers’ comp benefits, your claim will continue. You can continue to receive medical benefits and qualify for wage replacement if you cannot work due to your injury. However, your eligibility for wage replacement will end if a doctor releases you to light duty and your former employer has such a position available.

While you can still file a workers’ comp claim after resigning from your job, there’s a chance this might raise suspicions of fraud by the insurer. New York workers’ comp law requires that you notify your employer of any injury or work-related illness within 30 days. A knowledgeable attorney can help answer your questions and guide your case.

Consult With a Reliable Workers' Compensation Attorney in New York City

While workers’ compensation is a no-fault system that’s supposed to provide benefits quickly to injured workers, you can’t trust the insurance company to pay the benefits you deserve. In addition, if your employer has retaliated against you for filing a claim, you may be able to pursue additional remedies.

At Shulman & Hill, our personal injury and workers’ compensation attorneys represent clients in New York City, on Long Island, and statewide. We have won over $400 million for injured clients and take pride in fighting for the rights of injured workers.

Contact us online or call 212-221-1000 to schedule a free initial consultation. We will review your situation and outline your legal options.

Contact our Team for your Free Case Consultation

At Shulman & Hill, our personal injury attorneys have won more than $500 million for injured clients throughout the years. This includes pain and suffering damages that compensate them for their intangible losses, as well as economic damages such as medical bills and lost income.

As New York’s premier personal injury law firm, we serve clients in New York City, on Long Island, and statewide. We pride ourselves on handling cases no matter the difficulty or complexity.

Contact us using our online form or by dialing (866) 806-6754. We offer free initial case consultations and will assess your legal options based on your case facts. We are here to help you pursue fair compensation based on the expenses and losses you suffered, including any non-economic damages.

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