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What Happens If I Get Fired While on Workers’ Comp in California? 2024

Getting injured at work is a difficult and unfortunate event. Those who suffer an injury in the workplace are entitled to compensation through workers’ compensation. Unfortunately, some workers experience further hardship when they are let go or fired after filing a claim. If you’ve been fired at work while on workers’ comp, it is imperative that you speak with a California workers’ comp lawyer as soon as possible to protect your rights and receive justice.

The Canlas Law Group has extensive experience handling workers’ compensation cases, including retaliatory cases for wrongful termination. Our lawyers understand your rights and are willing to work diligently to ensure that they are protected and that you are receiving the full extent of the benefits to which you are owed.

What Are My Rights While I’m on Workers’ Compensation?

For those who have filed a workers’ compensation claim for a work-related injury, you are entitled to receive benefits to cover your financial losses and ensure that you are rehabilitated. Under California law, it is illegal for an employer to terminate you or otherwise negatively act toward you simply for receiving these benefits or filing a claim.

Terminating one’s employment, reducing hours, demoting, or otherwise punishing an employee without legitimate cause could constitute retaliation following a workers’ compensation claim. In fact, for 90 days following a claim, any such act would automatically be assumed to be an act of retaliation unless the employer can demonstrate and prove an appropriate cause.

A recent change to California’s laws now places the burden of proof on the employer during this timeframe to show that they were acting legally, rather than requiring employees to prove that they were wrongfully terminated.

However, these rights do not wholly protect an employee’s employment. Employers may still alter a worker’s hours, position, or employment at will for any other legitimate reason, such as downsizing or performance-related reasons.

Will I Lose My Benefits If I Am Fired While on Workers’ Compensation?

Fortunately, even if you are fired for a legitimate reason, you are still entitled to receive the full amount of your claim settlement. In fact, California requires workers’ compensation benefits for injured employees until they have reached what is known as maximum medical improvement.

Maximum medical improvement is reached when an injured worker’s condition is no longer expected to improve or has otherwise recovered to the extent to which it is medically expected. In most workers’ compensation cases, this is a significant point in the process, after which evaluations are initiated and further benefits decisions are resolved.

You shouldn’t cease receiving benefits until you have reached maximum medical improvement, whether you remain with your employer or not. If you were receiving benefits at the time you were fired, make sure that you continue receiving the benefits owed to you until your condition is stabilized. If you believe that you have prematurely stopped receiving benefits, contact an experienced lawyer as soon as possible.

What Happens If I Get Fired While on Workers’ Comp?

In California, if you are legally fired while on workers’ compensation, you will continue receiving benefits until your condition has stabilized. If, for some reason, you do not continue receiving benefits, a workers’ comp lawyer can build a case against your employer or the insurance carrier to ensure that your rights are protected. If you are fired illegally, you may bring a case against your employer for wrongful termination.

FAQs

Q: Is My Job Protected While on Workers’ Comp in California?

A: In California, you cannot be terminated from your job for filing a workers’ compensation claim. However, this doesn’t necessarily protect your job, as you can still be let go for legitimate reasons, such as downsizing or performance issues. However, if you are terminated within 90 days of filing, there is a rebuttable presumption of retaliation, making it easier for employees to establish a case of retaliation for being let go so close to a protected activity.

Q: What Is the New Workers’ Comp Law in California?

A: As of 2024, there are some changes that have been made to the workers’ compensation law in California, specifically around SB 497, which is known as the Equal Pay and Anti-Retaliation Protection Act. Primarily, this new law shifts the burden of proof from the employee in establishing a case for retaliation if they are terminated following a workers’ compensation claim to the employer in establishing a legitimate reason for termination. This applies during the 90 days following a claim.

Q: Can You Get Laid Off After an Injury?

A: Following an injury, a worker can be laid off, though there are important legal considerations to take into account. Retaliation is illegal, meaning that no employer may lay off an employee simply for filing a claim. Recent changes to the law add new protections for employees by providing 90 days in which an employer would need to justify their termination to a court. Legitimate business reasons for termination, however, are legally allowed and could result in a layoff.

Q: How Long Can an Employee Be Out on Workers’ Compensation in California?

A: The amount of time that an employee can be on leave for workers’ compensation will vary depending on several factors, including the nature and severity of the injury and the particular coverage they receive in their claim. Generally, workers will have up to two years, or 104 weeks, of total coverage. These need not be taken consecutively, as they are a cumulative total. After this time has been used up, your benefits will end in most cases.

Your Los Angeles Workers’ Comp Attorney

If you’ve suffered a work-related injury, you have the right to receive the full amount of your benefits, even if you lose your job. If you believe that you were wrongfully terminated or have stopped receiving benefits to which you are owed, reach out to a qualified and skilled workers’ comp lawyer today. The team at the Canlas Law Group is ready to review your case and guide you through the legal process. Contact our office for an initial consultation.

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