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Workers Compensation and Employee Termination – Can You Be Fired After Workers Comp Claim?

Today Your Legal Corner will discuss "workers compensation and employee termination."

Anais Nin, a leading writer of the 20th century, wrote, "we do not see things as they are, we see things as we are." Because it is imperative we see the world as it is and not as we are, it is important to have a basic understanding of workers compensation and how it may or may not relate to you as an injured employee.

Have you ever wondered if you could be fired for filing a workers compensation claim? In short, the answer is no. However, there are other reasons for termination that an employer may try to use.

Workers compensation

Workers compensation is defined and regulated under Title 34 of the New Jersey Statutes. Workers’ compensation is a “no fault” insurance program that provides specific benefits. An injured employee will receive benefits regardless of who was at fault. In exchange for these guaranteed benefits, the worker does not have the right to bring a civil action against the employer for pain and suffering or other damages, except in cases of intentional acts.

To gain a basic understanding of workers compensation, consider the following: (1) are you covered by your employer in the event of a workplace injury, (2) is there a viable claim and (3) if terminated by your employer while filing or receiving workers compensation benefits, is the termination unlawful?

Workers compensation claim

Generally, employers operating in New Jersey must carry workers compensation insurance. Where an employer is required to carry workers compensation insurance, and an employee suffers a personal injury or death by accident or occupational disease arising out of and in the course of employment, workers compensation payments will be made for the injured workers care and treatment as well as for temporary disability benefits.

Employee fired after workers comp

Often times, employees are not quick to file a claim, fearful of employment discharge in retaliation for filing a workers compensation claim.

Importantly, New Jersey workers compensation law provides that it shall be unlawful for any employer to discharge or in any other manner discriminate against an employee as to his or her employment because such employee has claimed or attempted to claim workers compensation benefits from an employer.

However, employers may terminate an employee claiming reasons other than an open worker's comp claim. A person's employment status may impact the protection afforded to them. There are two basic employment types: employee at will and a contract employee.

Employee at will

If presently you do not possess an employment contract, which is a signed agreement with you and your employer than you are most likely an employee at will. In this arrangement, an employee may be fired for any legal reason.

Employee with contract

On the other hand, if you have entered into an employment contract, it may be more difficult to fire an employee as in most situations methods of termination are spelled out within the written contract.

For a specific analysis of your workers comp case, and answers to all your legal questions, do consult with an experienced workers compensation attorney.

Till next week, God bless, keep smiling, when Your Legal Corner will provide information regarding "employee stress as a cause of action in filing a worker's compensation claim."

Victoria M. Dalton is an attorney with the law firm of Hoffman DiMuzio.

For questions, contact Victoria at vdalton@hoffmandimuzio.com

Your Legal Corner was created to provide educational articles about the law and is not legal advice.

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