Michigan lawyer explains why you can be fired while on workers’ comp and important exceptions to know about.
Many of our clients want to know the answer to the question “can I be fired while on workers’ comp”? They are concerned about losing seniority, pension contributions, group health insurance, and other fringe benefits. Who else will hire them if they are stuck with permanent disability?
It is an understatement to say that a workplace injury can present challenges. This is especially true when an entire family is relying upon you for support. Here is some information about protecting legal rights when terminated from the job.
Workers’ comp is not a perfect system and it can be downright unfair. It is a compromise of employee and employer interests. Employees hurt on-the-job are guaranteed medical treatment, lost wages, and vocational rehabilitation if needed. In exchange, employers receive immunity from civil lawsuits and do not have to pay additional damages for their negligence.
Many employers will keep a job open for a period of several months but will eventually need to fill the position. This is common if work restrictions prevent an employee from returning for an extended period. There is nothing in the workers’ comp law that guarantees future employment. However, employers must continue paying wage loss benefits while disability is ongoing.
Employees who are fired while on workers’ comp are entitled to have the value of discontinued fringe benefits included in their weekly comp rate. Items like health and accident insurance, housing/food/travel allowance, pension contributions, and even sometimes vacation pay can be factored into this calculation. This will add significant value to a workers’ comp claim but it cannot make weekly benefits exceed two-thirds of the state average weekly wage.
Can I be fired while on workers’ comp in Michigan?
Yes, you can be fired while on workers’ comp in Michigan as there is nothing in the workers compensation law that protects your employment. However, your employer cannot fire you in retaliation for seeking workers compensation benefits. This is against the law and you can get damages beyond workers compensation benefits. This can be triggered by simply asking for medical or wage loss under workers’ comp. Watch out for employers who make up phony reasons that are used as a pretext to stop employment. It is possible to sue for wrongful termination under these circumstances.
Your employer may also have other legal obligations under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This is a federal law that protects some employees with health problems. It provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Firing someone in violation of FMLA could lead to a separate employment lawsuit with additional damages.
It is also possible for a disabled employee to be covered from being fired while on workers’ comp under an employment or union contract. This may provide additional rights that are not given under workers’ comp law. Filing a union grievance can help protect employment status. It is important to speak with an experienced attorney when faced with this situation.
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) 201-9497 for a free consultation today.