Nobody wants to be fired from their job, and that’s especially true for employees who recently suffered a significant on the job injury. And while Minnesota law makes it illegal for a company to fire an individual for pursuing workers’ compensation benefits, proving that you were fired because you filed for workers’ compensation is another story. In today’s blog, we showcase some of the ways you can work to prove wrongful termination after a work injury.
Fired After A Work Injury
As we talked about in detail on this blog, your employer is not legally required to hold your job for you after a work injury if it is evident that you will not be able to return to full capacity as a result of your injuries. That doesn’t mean that they can just fire you while you are recovering, but know that they don’t have to hold your position at the factory if your injuries make a return to the same position impossible.
However, the company is required to take reasonable accommodations to help the employee return to gainful employment. For example, if a police officer suffered an injury that left them unable to pursue patrol work, the department would likely shift them into a desk role or similar position that suits their skills and new restrictions. They do not need to create a new position because of the injuries to the employee, but they do need to take reasonable measures to help them return to gainful employment.
Now, let’s look at the opposite side of the coin and explore what happens when your company decides to terminate your employment after your work injury. It’s important to remember that every situation is unique, and your employer may certainly be within their rights to fire you after your work injury. For example, if you violated clear safety protocols and it led to your injuries or injuries to other employees, they could have cause to fire you. You may still be eligible for workers’ compensation, but you will have no recourse in a wrongful termination lawsuit.
However, let’s say that you believe that you were terminated unlawfully as a result of filing for workers’ compensation benefits. Of course, your company will never come out and say this directly. They’ll cite other reasons in order to justify their actions because they know that it’s illegal to fire someone because they affected the company’s bottom line by filing for workers’ compensation benefits. So how can you go about proving the true cause of your unlawful termination?
The best way to gain any traction on a wrongful termination lawsuit is by hiring a lawyer from the start. As Denzel Washington once said, “It’s not what you know, it’s what you can prove,” and your lawyer will use their decades of experience to help build a strong case. For starters, they’ll begin by looking at what the company cited as your reason for termination. They may then look to see if any similar situations were handled differently. For example, if the company states that you were fired for violating safety policies, but other employees have only received verbal or written warnings for their safety violations because they didn’t file an injury claim, you may be able to make a case that your company is retaliating against you for moving forward with an injury claim.
Your lawyer will interview witnesses, review similar situations and use any correspondence between you and your employer to build a case that suggests your company is attempting to terminate your employment unlawfully. It won’t be easy to prove, but that doesn’t mean your rights aren’t worth protecting. Employers have necessary steps they need to follow after a work injury, and if they just try to terminate their relationship with the employee unlawfully, they may face consequences of their own.
You are legally entitled to workers’ compensation benefits after an on the job injury, and an employer cannot terminate your employment for pursuing these rights. If you know or have reason to believe you were illegally terminated from your job after a work injury, connect with an attorney who can help you get the workers’ compensation and wrongful termination benefits you deserve. In the greater Twin Cities area, connect with Dean and the team at Margolis Law Firm today at (952) 230-2700.