If an individual is injured at work, they may be hesitant to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits out of fear of how their employer will react to the claim. Employers want to limit their premiums and liability as much as possible and many business owners may try to dissuade workers from filing claims. Some employers may even threaten to fire someone for filing or claim or may otherwise treat them poorly as a result of a claim. The good news for any employees injured on the job is that any such type of adverse employment action against an injured worker due to a workers’ compensation claim is illegal in the state of Florida.
Florida law strictly prohibits the following behaviors on the part of employers in response to workers’ compensation claims:
- Threats to terminate the employee;
- Actual termination of the employee;
- Intimidation to keep the employee from filing a claim;
- Any other type of coercion tactics to avoid a claim; and
- Any other type of adverse employment action that constitutes unlawful retaliation.
This law is in place to protect the rights of workers who are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for injuries sustained while on the job.
Holding An Employer Liable For Wrongful Termination Or Retaliation Due to Workers’ Compensation Claims
If an employee believes they were wrongfully and unlawfully terminated or retaliated against due to a workers’ compensation claim, they may be able to file a legal claim to collect damages from their employer. In such a claim, a plaintiff would have to prove the following:
- The worker qualified for workers’ compensation benefits due to a workplace injury;
- The worker reported the injury to their employer or otherwise started the claims process to obtain benefits;
- The employer took retaliatory action such as termination or threat of such against the worker; and
- The retaliatory action was causally connected to the claim for workers’ compensation benefits.
By prevailing the legal claim, an employee can receive the benefits they deserved as well as any additional damages for lost wages, emotional distress, or other losses related to the termination. An employee may even be able to recover damages even if they had not actually filed a claim yet but had mentioned their intention to do so to the employer.
In short, the answer to whether an employer can fire an employee for filing a claim is “no,” however, that does not mean that some employers do not violate the law and do so anyway. Wrongful termination or retaliation from an employer due to filing a workers’ compensation claim is unacceptable and against the law. Having the assistance of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help to ensure an employee’s rights are protected and that they are aware of their legal options should an employer act wrongfully.