After a workplace injury, you are entitled to receive income benefits if you cannot work. If you are cleared to go back to work with restrictions, you can also receive partial wage loss benefits if your post-injury salary is lower than what you were making before you got hurt. If you are fired, however, your income loss benefits will end. As a result, employers may sometimes look for reasons to terminate your employment while you are still recovering from an injury.
Reasons Employers Cannot Fire You After A Work Injury
Employers cannot fire you for making a workers’ compensation claim, nor can they fire you because your disability has affected your ability to do your prior job and you are put on restricted duty in Texas. However, employers can fire you for cause. It is important that you ensure your employer complies with work restrictions your doctor puts in place, and does not try to make you do work that is impossible with your condition. You need to understand your rights and do everything possible to protect your job security, and a Texas workers compensation lawyer at Abbott and Associates, L.L.C. can help you.
Getting Fired While on Restricted Duty in Texas
Texas is an at will employment state, which means you can be fired for any reason or for no reason at all. However, there are exceptions to the general rule of at will employment. For example, workers’ compensation laws protect you from retaliation and prohibit your employer from firing you because you make a claim or in an effort to avoid paying benefits. The Americans with Disabilities Act, a federal law, also applies in Texas and precludes your employer from firing you because of a disabling medical condition.
If you are unable to work at all because of your work injuries, then your employer’s insurance carrier will need to pay Income Benefits and cannot fire you due to your inability to work. If you are put on restricted duty, you employer can offer you a light duty position that you can do with your health limitations. If you do not accept, then your benefits can be reduced based on what the work would pay you.
If you accept the position, your employer must respect the limitations your doctor set when you were returned to work under restricted duty. If your employer tries to make you do something that your medical condition prohibits you from doing, your employer cannot fire you because of your health limitations.
However, if you do not do the job well, then your employer may try to fire you and argue that you have been fired for cause (i.e. because you were a poor performing employee). As a result of this risk, it is important that you ensure your doctor is very clear about what you can and cannot do when you are released to work a light duty job.