If you have been hurt at work, then you are not only entitled to compensation for those injuries, but the time off you need in order to heal and rehabilitate. However, many workers are often afraid to report their work injuries and take worker’s compensation because they fear for the safety of their job. Sometimes they fear that worker’s compensation will paint a target on their back for costing the company more money. They fear that they will take some time off to heal and when that temporary disability wears off, they will return to work and won’t have a job to return to. However, what workers forget is that it is the responsibility of the company to make sure they are safe. If a company fails in that responsibility, they have to pay the price and that price can’t be paid from their worker’s position. While there are laws that prevent you from being fired due to a filing a worker’s compensation claim, getting laid off or downsized from your position may be a completely different story.
Unfortunately, it is possible to be laid off while you are on your worker’s compensation leave healing from your injury. However, there are different circumstances that make being laid off on worker’s compensation both perfectly fine and completely legal. These circumstances are separated by one simple word – “because.”
If your employer laid you off because you were on worker’s compensation, then that is a clear cut case of retaliation, something that is illegal and injured workers are protected against. However, if you would have been laid off prior to your work injury, that is an acceptable and completely legal case to terminate you from your job even while still on worker’s compensation.
However, just because an employer doesn’t use the wrong form of wording for their case, doesn’t mean you should take the loss of your job while on worker’s compensation at face value. Often one of the most suspicious circumstances is if you job was the only position that was downsizes. Layoffs are made even more suspicious if there was no plans for such a thing in the months prior to your injury. After all, executives can be impulsive, but they don’t just call a meeting one day and decide to lay off a person that same day. Typically, layoffs are planned long in advance, often long enough to try to prevent it, and rarely are layoffs done in single positions. Much of the time it is a group of non-essential personnel rather than an individual that lose their jobs. If you work in a department where there are a number of others that do your same position and you are the only one that has been laid off, that is even more suspect.
Unfortunately, if there is concrete proof that these layoffs were planned and a number of other employees lost their jobs as well, there is no law in Minnesota that requires employees to be given special treatment by their employers because of worker’s compensation. An employer can lay off an employee or fire them for poor performance even if they have filed a worker’s compensation claim.
However, if you feel like you have been unfairly targeted, you can take it up with the Minnesota State Worker’s Compensation Board. However, whether have been fired or laid off, you will need solid representation by a knowledgeable worker’s compensation attorney. If you are in the St. Paul area, contact us today. The Law Office of Joshua Borken stands for the rights of injured workers and we know clear cases of worker discrimination when we see them.