I was fired after I got hurt on the job. Isn’t that illegal?

I injured myself on the job and was given light duty restrictions. Shortly after, I was terminated. The company said the reason I was terminated was “separate” from my workplace injury. My question is how is it possible to separate the two incidents to avoid me being wrongfully terminated because I was terminated after I was injured?

Posted 07-24-2012

Ann Kiernan replies:

Of course, it is illegal to fire someone because she got hurt on the job and is using workers’ compensation benefits. But, just because you were fired after your injury does not mean you were fired because of it. For instance, if you were insubordinate, or sleeping on the job, or stealing, that would be a legitimate, non-retaliatory reason for termination. Similarly, if the employer has financial trouble, laying off workers based on seniority, and you are a recent hire, that would be a legitimate, non-retaliatory reason for termination.

You may want to consult with a local workers’ compensation attorney to learn more about your rights. Good luck.


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About the Author:

Ann Kiernan has litigated claims of wrongful discharge and discrimination before state and federal courts and administrative matters before the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, the National Labor Relations Board and the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, representing both employers and employees. Ms. Kiernan co-hosted The Employee Rights Forum, a weekly radio call-in show reaching up to a half-million listeners in the New York metropolitan area, and her articles on employment law have been published in many books and magazines. Both as a firm partner and as a director, Ms. Kiernan gained solid experience in management and human resources compliance. She has worked with Fair Measures since 1997.