Most employment situations are “at will.” This means that your boss can end your employment for no reason whatsoever. In some cases your employer does not need to provide a reason for your termination.
By that same token, you as an employee can resign for any reason. Or for no reason at all.
That said, your employer cannot fire you simply because you made a workers’ compensation claim.
The employer CAN, however, fire you while you have a workers’ comp claim open. They just need to show that they had other reasons for ending your employment.
Occasionally, you may be put in a situation in which you might be forced to file a workers’ compensation claim. For instance, if you see a doctor, using your own private health insurance for a work-related injury, your private health insurance company may refuse to pay for the visit or subsequent treatment relating to the injury. Your only option at that point would be to file a workers’ compensation claim.
Your employer is not allowed, under law, to end your employment because you reported an injury on the job, or because you filed a workers’ comp claim. If such a termination were to happen, you would have standing to sue your employer. If you feel this has happened, you should collect whatever documents and other evidence you can gather to support your case, and contact a workers’ compensation attorney.
Such a termination would be considered “retaliation” for filing a claim, and this is prohibited by statute.
However, it remains difficult to prove that the actual reason for your termination was the filing of a workers’ compensation claim. For instance, if your employer is laying off many people at once, then the employer has an argument that you were let go as a result of downsizing.
MMI stands for Maximum Medical Improvement. This term describes the moment at which your condition will not improve with additional medical care. The moment at which you are as recovered as you will ever be — that is when you enter into your condition of MMI.
While your workers’ comp claim is open, you may be entitled to benefits (such as temporary total disability) until you reach MMI.
Let’s say your doctors have determined that you have reached MMI. Their treatment will not improve your condition any further. And let’s say that in your current condition, you cannot fulfill the duties of your job in the same way.
You and your doctor should then discuss if you have any permanent work restrictions. If you do, then you and your employer would talk about these restrictions. In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), in some circumstances, your employer must make a reasonable effort to adapt your job in such a way that you can continue to work with your new restrictions. This may mean you need to take short breaks, or that you need a special desk or chair to accommodate your back or neck. Every case is different and it is important that you speak with an experienced attorney to discuss your rights.
If You Can’t Work At All
If the worst should happen, and you are unable to work in any capacity due to your work related injuries, your best option may be to apply for Permanent Total Disability (PTD) benefits. If you are planning to take your claim to this level, it is best to know that this is a benefit of last resort, and it is not granted lightly. You will need medical evidence, which indicates that you are incapable of performing sustained gainful employment of any kind within your level of knowledge, education and experience. In all likelihood, you will need an experienced attorney to help with this process.