In New York State, it is illegal for an employer to fire an employee solely because the employee filed a worker’s compensation claim. This does not mean, however, that an employee who is receiving worker’s compensation benefits is immune from being fired.  

An employer will inevitably face higher worker’s compensation insurance premiums when an injured employee files a claim, and as a result, that employer might look for other reasons to fire that employee. Workers who are fired after suffering on-the-job injuries should call Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb, Green & Bagley, P.C. to speak with a personal injury lawyer about whether that job termination constitutes retaliatory discharge and can therefore form the basis of a lawsuit.

What should a worker do when injured on the job?

An injured worker should not let fear of being fired prevent or delay him or her from filing for worker’s compensation benefits.  Workers should provide written notice of a job-related injury to employers no later than 30 days after the injury happens. That worker should also seek medical care for injuries and should inform the treating physician that the injury happened in the workplace.

What should an injured worker do if an employer discourages filing for worker’s compensation benefits?

An employer might, for example, try to convince an employee that injuries are not severe or that the employer will take care of the employee apart from filing a worker’s compensation claim. An injured worker should never rely on unwritten representations or allow an employer or anyone else to belittle an injury. Construction contractors and other employers are required to carry worker’s compensation insurance, and employees have every right to file and claim the benefits they deserve when they are hurt in the course of performing services for an employer. Call an experienced construction accident lawyer in New York if you believe that your employer is keeping you from seeking benefits.

Is an employer obligated to hold an injured employee’s job open?

An injured employee may not be able to work while recovering from job-related injuries, but New York State law does not preclude an employer from hiring a replacement for that employee. When the employee is ready to return to work, the employer might then claim that the employee’s job is no longer open or available. In all cases, the employee should regularly report the progress of his or her recuperation to the employer, who might then be more likely to make arrangements to bring the employee back onto a regular payroll.

Can an injured worker continue to collect worker’s compensation benefits if he or she is no longer employed?

New York is an ’employment at will’ state, and an employer can lay off or fire a worker for cause or good reason at any time, including while the worker is recovering from injuries away from the job. In most cases, the fired employee will continue to receive worker’s compensation benefits at least until a physician certifies that he or she is physically able to return to work. A physician selected by a worker’s compensation insurer in these circumstances may be more likely than the worker’s personal doctor to certify that the employee has recovered, which can lead to premature termination of worker’s compensation benefits. Employees should consult with a knowledgeable and experienced worker’s compensation attorney to resolve this conflict.

How can an injured worker prove that he or she was fired for filing a worker’s compensation claim?

A qualified law firm with a skilled investigative team can gather evidence to prove retaliatory discharge and discrimination due to the filing of a worker’s compensation claim. Employees should retain all employment records, including proof of any citations for exceptional performance, promotions, or bonuses, certificates showing completion of training, and even notes of conversations with employers.

Please call Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb, & Green to speak with a New York City personal injury lawyer if you were fired or laid off after you filed for worker’s compensation benefits. We represent injured workers in Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, and throughout the NYC metropolitan area. We fight to get workers the benefits they deserve and to protect them from vindictive employers that would rather terminate their employment than give them the injury benefits they deserve.