Many workers only have the protection of workers’ compensation insurance if they suffer a serious injury on the job. However, their employer might provide supplemental long-term and short-term disability insurance benefits. Some workers even buy their own policy in addition to their work-sponsored coverage.
A private disability policy is better protection than workers’ compensation because it applies to injuries that occur outside of work, like a broken leg from a car crash. It can also apply to medical conditions that don’t relate to your employment, like multiple sclerosis.
Having such insurance coverage tied to your employment might mean that you feel worried about making a claim against it. Can your employer fire you for filing a long-term disability insurance claim?
California is an at-will state for employment, which technically means that your employer could fire you at any time for no reason at all. However, they still cannot fire you for an overtly illegal reason.
Asserting your rights to claim benefits as an employee is not a justification to fire you. Your employer should try to work with you if a medical condition leaves you unable to work for a while. An employer incapable of accommodating the effects of a disabling medical condition or long-term leave because of having a limited number of employees might have grounds to terminate a worker who will indefinitely be unable to return to work.
However, that has to do with work availability and unpaid leave rather than an insurance claim. Your employer offers disability insurance as a perk of employment, and they should not penalize you for making use of those benefits when you need the help.
It can be difficult to describe a particular intention to your employer’s decision to terminate you. They might claim that the termination was completely unrelated to your insurance claim. In some cases, they might even fabricate reasons to write you up and create a falsified paper trail to excuse their wrongful termination.
Keeping personal records of statements your employer has made about your benefit request or your medical condition and maintaining documentation about the timing of your termination could help you build a case. Knowing your rights will make it easier to fight back when an employer unfairly ends your employment.