Michigan workers’ compensation lawyer provides answers to the question “can you be fired while on light duty?” and explains your legal rights.
The toughest part of my job is seeing bad things happen to good people. Unfortunately, this seems to be commonplace in the Michigan workers’ compensation system. It seems the deck is stacked against injured employees in our state. Here is an example of a recent case that we took on and hope it provides some insights should you be fired while on light duty.
A nice woman called our office and explained how she was laid off while on restrictions. She was still dealing with the consequence of a workplace shoulder injury. Apparently, her company went bankrupt and was purchased by a new company that wanted to get rid of all their partially disabled employees. She was not given any wage loss benefits and told to hit the road. Here is some information about workers’ compensation when you are fired while on light duty.
Laid off while on light duty
Employers are given a powerful incentive to bring their disabled employees back to work. They do not have to pay wage loss benefits if they provide a job within restrictions. This is called “favored work” or “reasonable employment.” It must be a job that is a reasonable distance from home that poses no danger to health or safety. Failure to accept this job will result in a forfeiture of wage loss benefits.
Problems occur when the employer no longer wants to accommodate restrictions. They can send their employee to an independent medical examination (IME) and get a written medical opinion saying restrictions are no longer needed. The employee is then given a choice of returning to unrestricted work or losing their job.
It is very important to speak with an experienced lawyer about workers’ compensation when laid off while on light duty. A lawsuit can be filed seeking additional wage loss benefits based upon treating medical evidence. Most of these cases are eventually settled for a lump sum cash payment.
Can you be fired while on light duty?
In Michigan, you can be fired while on light duty unless protected under federal law or an employment contract. The law does not guarantee employment when you are hurt on-the-job. However, wage loss benefits under workers’ compensation must still be paid while you are disabled.
Bad employers try to escape paying wage loss benefits by making up a pretext to fire someone. If an employee is fired because of their own fault, it will be argued that no wage loss benefits are owed because they removed themselves from the job. This is very common when an employee fails a drug test. We have also seen it when past employment issues are suddenly resurrected and used as an excuse to terminate employment.
We all know that employers can find any excuse to fire someone. It is important to challenge these bad actions and hold the employer accountable. If you were fired while on light duty it may possible to file a separate lawsuit for wrongful termination and seek additional damages. This is especially true if an employee was retaliated against for simply asking for workers’ compensation benefits under Michigan law.
Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers never charges a fee to evaluate a potential case. Our law firm has represented injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years. Call (844) 316-8033 for a free consultation today.