Should I worry about being fired after an injury?

Once you have sought out medical treatment for a workplace injury, you may worry about the future of your job. Your injury may be serious enough that you will not be returning to work anytime soon, so you might have concerns that your employer will decide to fire you.

According to the New Jersey Department of Labor, the law does not completely prevent your workplace from terminating your job. However, you do have recourse to legally contest a firing in a number of circumstances.

Firing for seeking workers’ comp

A New Jersey workplace could get into legal trouble by firing an injured worker for trying to secure workers’ compensation benefits. Under the state workers’ comp law, your employer cannot fire you if you file a workers’ compensation claim or if you give testimony at a worker’s comp hearing.

In the event your employer does fire you, you have the option to submit a discrimination complaint to the Division of Workers’ Compensation. If your complaint is successful, you would return to your current job and receive lost wages. Be aware that the law requires you to be able to carry out the essential duties of whatever job you hold in order to receive remedy.

Firing because of disability

The state workers’ comp law does not prohibit your employer from firing you simply because you have a disabling condition. However, terminating you for this reason may run afoul of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA restricts the firing of employees with disabilities, so depending on the nature of your termination, your employer may be guilty of discrimination.

Returning to limited work

If you have concerns about your job being there for you while you recover, you can work out a plan with your employer to return to work. If your doctor clears you, you may ask your employer to give you a lighter duty schedule and scale down your duties to those you can handle. Your employer may see that you want to be a productive worker and have less incentive to let you go.