One of the great fears workers have is being fired or let go from a position. The job market is filled with potential employees looking for work; however, there are a minimal number of positions open. For this reason, employees may work in conditions that are less than ideal or they may let an injury go uncontested or untreated for far too long.
Any injury sustained on the job can be serious and may lead to complications if left untreated. However, if an employee does not get help from his or her employer or company, he may not be able to pay for medical care.
An injured employee who does file a workers’ compensation claim puts his job at risk. Even if the claim is filed by an employee who simply needs to pay the medical bills related to a broken leg and who is not interested in retaliating against his employer, the employer may take some kind of action. Still, employees do work at will, which means they can be hired, fired or let go at any point, for any reason or no stated reason.
If the employee has a broken leg and works in construction, for example, his employer may offer him several weeks of light-duty work, such as running the workflow from the office or doing sit-down work rather than heavy lifting and manual labor. If the employee does not accept the light-duty work, he may not be eligible to receive the temporary disability benefits or he may risk being fired. Even if he does take the light-duty work, he may be fired anyway.
What Are Your Options?
An employee may be eligible to apply for protection under the U.S Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which provides entitled employees of covered employers to request unpaid leave for specific medical reasons, during which time their jobs will be protected and they will be allowed to continue receiving their regular health insurance coverage. This protection can last up to 12 weeks.
Unfortunately, the 12-week period is not long enough to cover some extensive injuries and employees may still face problems at work once their FMLA coverage runs out. However, the employer’s insurance company may provide assistance at that point. The insurer may want the employer to wait until an employee’s final restrictions have been determined before deciding whether to allow him to come back to work at a modified job or to terminate his position.
Employers may try to push an employee on workers’ compensation disability benefits to quit or to take a modified work schedule just to place the burden of losing the position on the employee. That being the case, it is important to discuss every option with a qualified attorney before making a change or choosing to turn down a modified work schedule.
For more information regarding Colorado’s laws about being fired after suffering an at-work injury, contact the Denver workers compensation lawyers at Levine Law for a consultation today.