If I Sue for Workers Compensation, Will I Lose My Job?

Getting injured on the job can be traumatic, both physically and financially. In order to cover medical expenses and lost wages, you may wish to file a claim for workers’ compensation. 

But you likely rely on your job and don’t want to risk losing it. So, can filing a claim cost you your job?

The short answer is no—there are laws to protect you. But it helps to understand the legal protections for injured workers in New York so you can make the best choices during recovery.

Workers’ Compensation in New York

New York’s workers’ compensation system provides medical care and wage benefits to those hurt while working. It’s a no-fault system, meaning you can receive benefits regardless of who was at fault for the accident.

To get these benefits, you’ll need to file a claim through your employer’s insurance company. They must be notified within 30 days. Your employer is also required to report any serious injuries to the Board.

Once approved, the insurance company pays for medical treatment and provides partial wage replacement for missed work. For serious injuries, these benefits can continue for years.

Is My Job Protected If I File a Claim?

It’s natural to worry that filing for workers’ comp could upset your employer or put your job at risk. But New York law prohibits employers from retaliating against those who exercise their right to benefits.

Two key protections include:

  • The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides up to 12 weeks of medical leave for serious health conditions. Employers cannot terminate employees during this protected period.
  • Retaliation protections make it illegal to fire someone for filing a workers’ comp claim. This applies even after the 12-week FMLA period ends.

So, if you’re fired shortly after reporting an accident or claim, it may constitute wrongful termination. There are significant penalties under state and federal law for such retaliation.

When Can You Be Lawfully Fired After a Work Injury?

While retaliation is illegal, there are certain situations where termination may still occur lawfully:

  • If extended time off makes you unable to perform the normal duties of your job, the company can let you go after attempts to accommodate your restrictions.
  • If the business experiences a downsizing, you can be included in layoffs even while receiving benefits.
  • For misconduct unrelated to your claim, you can face disciplinary action leading to termination.
  • If you exhaust the 12-week FMLA protection and are fired for poor performance, your benefits will continue, but employment could end.

So, while being on workers’ comp does limit some termination rights, it does not make you impervious to firing if circumstances warrant it.

Strategies to Avoid Losing Your Job After a Claim

Here are some tips to help protect your job if you suffer a workplace injury:

  • Communicate regularly with your employer about your limitations and expected timeline for returning to full duty. The more they understand your situation, the more accommodating they may be.
  • Request accommodations like light duty or working from home that allow you to continue contributing during recovery.
  • Don’t abuse your leave by unnecessarily remaining off work or extending timelines. Malingering could backfire and cause resentment from your employer.
  • Consult with a worker’s comp attorney if you have any concerns about wrongful termination. They can advise you on the law and the next steps if you are fired unlawfully.

Protecting Your Rights and Your Livelihood

Suffering a workplace injury can be difficult enough without having to worry about income loss or job security. While legal protections exist against retaliation, caution is warranted in how you approach the situation with your employer. worry

The attorneys at O’Connor Law PLC are compassionate advocates for the injured and disabled. They assist clients with workers’ compensation, Social Security disability, and wrongful termination claims. 

If you have questions about your rights after a workplace accident, contact O’Connor Law for a free consultation. With extensive experience handling disability cases, they aim to answer all questions and provide guidance during the claims process.