If you have been injured on the job, you may be wondering about your employment status while you are at home recovering. Can your employer fire you while you are on workers' compensation? The short answer is: yes, but it depends.
Virginia is an 'At-Will' Employment State
Because Virginia is an 'at-will' employment state, Virginia employers can choose to terminate an employee at any time for any reason. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. An employer cannot fire a worker under certain circumstances and, in doing so, may be found in violation of committing retaliation.
What is Retaliation in the Workplace?
Workplace retaliation occurs when an employer fires (fires, disciplines, etc.) an employee for engaging in a legally protected activity, in this case:
- Filing a valid workers' compensation claim. (§ 65.2-308)
If an employer commits a retaliatory action, the employee may be able to bring a civil action against the employer.
Employers May Try to Fabricate Reasons for Termination
While an employer cannot fire an employee for filing a workers' compensation claim, they may still attempt to fabricate reasons and offer them as legitimate causes of termination. Employers may try to argue that:
- The employee was fired due to a lack of performance.
- The employee was laid off due to a reduction in the workforce.
- The position was eliminated.
In many cases, they may not even give a reason!
If any of these things did occur, the employee would need to show that the decision to terminate was because the employee filed for workers' compensation. This can be difficult to prove, however, which is why it is essential to have an experienced workers' compensation attorney on your side.
Will My Benefits Be Affected if I'm Legally Terminated?
If you are legally terminated from your job, your workers' compensation benefits may be affected, if you were terminated from light duty work.
If you have been injured on the job and are wondering about your employment status, or if you have been wrongfully terminated, contact an experienced workers' compensation attorney at Reinhardt | Harper | Davis today.
If you have been injured in a workplace accident, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation. Call us today at (804) 294-2966 or fill out our form online for a free consultation.