On-the-job injuries can happen to even the safest and most productive of workers. When they do, you want to be sure you get the workers’ compensation benefits you are need to assist you and your loved ones through your recovery. Workplace accidents and job injuries often result in heavy medical expenses, while the ramifications from being off work can jeopardize your finances. Unfortunately, some workers are reluctant to file a claim for the benefits they are entitled to out of fear of being fired or facing reduced hours from their employers. If you have been injured, it is important to be aware of your rights as well as what your employer can and cannot do in recrimination for filing your claim.
Under Section 440.205 of the Florida State Workers’ Compensation Statutes, employers are prohibited from firing or threatening to fire an employee who has been injured on the job and intends to file for workers’ compensation. Employers who disregard this law may be subject to legal action, including having to pay damages to the injured worker and having to reinstate the person to their job or assist them in obtaining another position within the company.
At the same time, Florida is an ‘at will’ work state, which, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, means that employers have the right to fire employees for good reasons, bad reasons, and even for no reason at all. This means that while you are protected under the workers’ compensation statutes, your boss, supervisor, or company owner could attempt to use the at will doctrine to justify your firing and defend themselves in any lawsuit that arises.
Protection Against Retaliation
While the at will doctrine would seem to put employees at a disadvantage, there is still plenty a worker can do to protect themselves while filing for benefits. According to the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC), you should file your claim immediately after any accident or injury, and if your employer fails to follow up on it, you can enlist the services of the DWC to help. This provides a clear record both of your injury, as well as your employer’s reluctance to pay the claim, evidence that could be important in defending yourself against later against a retaliatory firing. If your claim is denied, you have the right to appeal your benefits, and you should inform the DWC immediately of your intent to do so.
In the event your boss waited until you returned to work before firing you, there are federal laws which may help. According to the U. S. Department of Labor, if you suffered an injury which resulted in a temporary or permanent disability, the Americans with Disability Act may be able to protect your job and prevent your employer from firing you on the basis of that disability.
Reach Out to Us for Help
If you or someone you care about suffers an on the job injury and is concerned about facing recrimination for filing a claim, contact our experienced Florida workers’ compensation attorneys right away. At Hogan Frick, we can assist you in getting the medical benefits and compensation you need to recover, while defending your rights and protecting your interests. Get the professional, effective legal representation you need immediately after your injury. We have offices in Orlando, Gainesville, Ocala, Kissimmee, and Lakeland; contact Hogan Frick today for a free review of your case.