Can You Be Fired While on Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ compensation pays the cost of the care needed when you experience a work-related accident or illness. It also provides benefits covering part of the wages lost while you are unable to work while recovering. 

The extent of job protection for workers who are injured or sick because of an accident or conditions at work primarily depends on the laws in your state. For example, Oregon offers protection against a worker being fired, but that protection may be limited depending on the number of people an employer has working for it. 

This article will answer questions that you may have about your rights while on workers’ compensation, including protection against being fired by an employer and your right to return to work after you recover. If you have more questions about workers’ compensation benefits and your rights, a consultation with a Bend workers’ compensation attorney will provide sound legal advice and options for enforcing the rights that you have under the law. 

Can you be fired for filing a workers’ compensation claim? 

Oregon workers’ compensation laws protect workers against employers that try to prevent them from filing a claim for benefits when injured at work. According to the law, you have a right to file a claim for benefits without interference from your employer. 

Your employer cannot prevent you from filing the claim through threats or other retaliatory action or refuse to submit the claim to its workers’ compensation insurance company for processing. An employer that fires you or discriminates against you in any way because you filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits violates state law. 

Oregon law makes it an unlawful employment practice for employers with six or more employees to discriminate against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim. The following would be unlawful employment practices under the statute: 

  • Your employer fires you for filing a workers’ compensation claim.
  • You apply for a job, and the employer refuses to offer you the job because you previously filed a claim for workers’ compensation at another job.
  • After you file for compensation benefits, your employer transfers you to a different department, cuts your hourly pay, and changes the hours that you work.
  • You are fired after testifying at a workers’ compensation hearing on behalf of a fellow worker who was injured at work. 

If your employer threatens to fire you or engages in other forms of conduct to deter you from exercising your rights as an injured worker, contact a Bend workers’ compensation attorney right away. 

Your right to reinstatement after a work-related injury or illness 

The purpose of workers’ compensation laws is to get people the medical care and benefits they need to recover from an injury or illness and return to work as quickly as possible. It will be up to your physician to certify to your employer and workers’ compensation insurer that you are sufficiently recovered from your injury or illness to return to work. 

According to the law in Oregon, if where you work employs more than 20 employees, your employer must reinstate you to the position that you held before the injury or illness, as long as you have been cleared by the doctor to return to work. Your employer cannot use the fact that another worker replaced you at your former position to deny your request to return to work. Under these circumstances, the employer must find a vacant and suitable position for you. 

Your doctor may determine that you have not recovered to the point of resuming the type of work that you did before, but you have recovered enough to do modified or light-duty work. Until your employer finds such a position for you, your workers’ compensation benefits will continue.

When you return to a modified-work position, the amount that you earn from your employer will determine whether you receive wage-replacement benefits. If you earn the same amount or more than you earned before your injury, you will not receive wage benefits. However, if your modified position pays less than what you made before, you will receive the difference through your workers’ compensation benefits.

Learn more from a Bend workers’ compensation attorney

An accident or illness at work can turn your life upside down. When you need advice and representation regarding your rights under Oregon workers’ compensation laws, schedule a consultation with a Bend workers’ compensation attorney.

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