Job Security & Workers’ Compensation
Being “out” on workers’ comp means either being on temporary partial or temporary total disability, to the point where medical improvement is needed before you can go back to work. Many employers will hold either your job or one substantially similar open for you to return to – but as of this writing, there is no requirement under Florida law that they do so. If you are “out” on workers’ comp and are worried about your job security, it is important to know that there is no right to return, but you do have rights in the situation that your employment is terminated.
Still Guaranteed Wage Loss Benefits (Usually)
When an employee is not working due to an injury, their employer may choose to hold their job open, but it is purely voluntary to do that; since Florida law does not require it. Many employers will terminate the injured worker and hire someone else who is able to pick up the ‘slack’ as soon as possible. This is legal, though it can certainly feel like a betrayal to the terminated worker. However, from a purely monetary aspect, terminating an injured employee does not actually save an employer any money.
The reason for this is that under both state and federal law, an employee who is injured is still entitled to receive lost wages (the amount depending on whether your disability is total or partial, temporary or permanent) from their employer until they reach what the system calls maximum medical improvement (MMI). There are exceptions to this, but as a general rule, the only way your wage loss benefits will end is if you reach MMI – if you are terminated, it is generally irrelevant in terms of workers’ compensation.
Most employers are understandably concerned with their bottom line. However, the law forbids them from terminating an employee solely because they filed a workers’ compensation case or sought other benefits to which they believed they were entitled. If you have a reasonable belief that your employer fired you in retaliation for your claim, you may be able to sue under the anti-coercion statute or in a private civil action for wrongful termination. Florida law recognizes something called public policy, where an action contrary to public policy will shock the conscience of the average member of the public, and terminating someone in mean-spirited retaliation decidedly fits the bill.
It is less common, but employers may also sometimes retaliate if you decide to file for leave time under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), assuming you meet the criteria to do so. If you suspect your employer is acting negatively toward you out of retaliation, it is crucial to contact an attorney, so that you can know what your rights are in this type of situation, and how best to proceed. Your livelihood may be at stake.
Call An Orlando Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Most people want to recuperate and get back to work as soon as possible, but that may not be in their employers’ plan. It is important to seek experienced legal assistance and be certain of what rights you have and which of your options may be best going forward. The Orlando workers’ compensation attorneys at the Hornsby Law Group are well versed in this type of case, and will work hard for you. Call us today for a free consultation.