I got hurt at work and then got fired. Is that legal?

I was off on medical leave for arm surgery, and when I returned to work 3 months later, I gave my supervisor my doctor’s note saying that I could not lift more than 25 lbs.

But my supervisor ripped up the doctor’s note, and had me lift 40+ lbs. which resulted in my tearing a tendon in my arm, and another surgery. While I was at home recuperating, I got a call from work saying “Your services are no longer needed”, and when I asked what that meant she said “You’re fired.”

My employer has not paid any of my hospital bills, and they are mounting. Should I contact the EEOC? Do I have a case????

Posted  08-04-2010

Ann Kiernan replies:

Since your tendon was injured at work, that surgery and any follow-up should have been covered 100% by workers’ compensation. You should not have to pay anything for your doctors’ visits, hospital stay, medication, or physical therapy.

You should immediately meet with a workers’ compensation attorney in your area to get the benefits the law entities you to claim. In addition, you should explore with your attorney whether you have a claim for wrongful termination in retaliation for using workers’ comp benefits.

I hope your arm heals 100%. If it does, you would not have any claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act, since that law does not cover temporary disabilities. But if the injury has left you with a permanent disability, you should investigate with your lawyer or the EEOC whether you also have a claim for disability discrimination.

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.