After getting hurt on the job, filing a workers’ compensation claim to help cover your medical treatments and give you a portion of your wages while you recover should be your first move. But even if you file a claim and are approved for medical leave, is your job safe? Can your employer fire you while you’re on leave? The answer isn’t as simple as you might think. Here’s what your workers’ compensation attorney in Chicago wants you to know.
Can You Be Fired During Your Approved Medical Leave?
While it might seem like your employer can’t fire you while you’re on approved leave, the truth isn’t so straightforward. Employers cannot legally fire you in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim or taking medical leave. However, that doesn’t mean your position is safe and guaranteed to be there when you recover.
Most employees are hired on an at-will basis. This means they’re able to quit their jobs for any reason, with or without giving their employer notice. However, it also means that your employer is able to fire you for any legitimate reason. They’re prohibited by law from terminating employees due to medical conditions, workers’ compensation claims, and medical leaves of absence. But they can always cite another reason to justify the termination.
These reasons can range from anything from poor work performance prior to the accident to a reduction in workforce or a general layoff. Typically, employers will cite a reason for termination completely unrelated to the workers’ compensation claim or medical leave, as firing employees for medical reasons can easily result in a lawsuit.
The Burden of Proof for Justifying the Termination Is on Your Employer
If you’ve been fired after starting medical leave after filing a workers’ compensation claim and believe that your employer retaliated against you for filing the claim, you can fight the decision. It’s up to your employer to justify their decision and prove that it wasn’t a direct result of your claim or your leave. Keep in mind that wrongful termination lawsuits can be stressful, and it may be difficult to prove that your employer terminated you out of retaliation.
Document Everything You Can
The best thing you can do is document everything you can. Keep your medical records regarding your work-related injury up to date. Maintain copies of any emails your employer sends regarding your medical leave, your position, or your termination. Make a note of any phone calls you received from your employer and keep track of what was said during the call. The more documentation you have, the easier it will be to make your case.
Consult With an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you’ve been terminated after going on medical leave or your employer is making threats to retaliate against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim, you don’t have to go through it alone. Instead, work with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney in Chicago. They’ll be able to review your case and represent you if your employer makes an unfair decision. Contact Anesi Ozmon LTD. today to schedule a free consultation.