Can You Get Fired for Filing a Workers’ Comp Claim?

March 8 2023

It is illegal for employers to terminate employees for filing a workers’ compensation claim. If you believe you were wrongfully terminated due to your injury or illness, please contact your state labor department or a lawyer who specializes in employment law.

What is Workers Compensation?

Workers compensation is a form of insurance that covers medical expenses and lost wages for employees who are injured or become ill due to a work-related condition. It is intended to cover the costs associated with these injuries and protect both parties: employers can rest assured that their employees will be taken care of, while employees may receive coverage even if they are not found to be totally blameless in their injury. Workers compensation also protects employers from being sued by injured employees.

There is some debate as to whether this protection adequately covers employees, since it does not consider other damages like pain and suffering. On one side, proponents of the system argue that it provides a safe way for employers to provide necessary benefits for their workers and promote safety in the workplace. They point out that it encourages companies to strive for safer work practices by mitigating the risk posed by workplace accidents. On the other hand, opponents criticize the lack of accountability within the system and its possible limitation on employee rights. It is argued that legal remedies should still be available for those experiencing extreme hardships related to their injury or illness because of inadequate coverage through workers compensation.

In conclusion, there are both pros and cons when it comes to workers compensation systems. While they do offer some coverage for workplace injuries, they may not always adequately cover all the losses incurred by an employee due to a work-related incident. Moving forward into the next section, we will explore the question: Can You Get Fired for Filing a Workers’ Comp Claim?

Can You Get Fired for Workers Comp?

Can You Get Fired for Filing a Workers’ Comp Claim?

This is an important question that many workers have, especially when they fear retaliation from their employer. The short answer to this question is “no,” meaning that an employer may not legally fire an employee solely for filing a workers’ comp claim. In fact, there are multiple laws in place that protect injured workers from being punished for seeking compensation for their workplace injuries.

That said, it is important to note that there are situations where an employee can be fired (or let go) even after filing a workers’ comp claim. For example, if the injury or accident occurred due to employee behavior or negligence, the employee may be subject to termination. Additionally, if the injury or accident caused by the employee was related to the violation of safety policies or procedures, that could be cause for termination as well.

It’s also worth noting that some employers may opt for other forms of punishment such as demotion in lieu of firing Injured employees since this option can often cost them less in terms of legal fees and damages – although this should never be considered a safe option. Therefore, while an employer cannot legally terminate you solely based on filing a workers’ comp claim, they can still find ways to punish you with more subtle methods of repercussion that result in the same detriment.

The most appropriate action for any worker considering filing a workers’ comp claim is to speak closely with an experienced attorney who specializes in labor and employment law and can provide advice on how to navigate potential issues with employers. Doing so will provide greater assurances of protection from any source of retribution stemming from filing a claims.

Leading into the next section: With so much at risk, it’s important for workers who are considering whether or not to file a workers’ comp claim to know about any legal protections that may be available for them. Therefore, it’s important to consider what kind of legal protection exist for injured workers facing backlash from employers after filing their claim

Legal Protections for Injured Workers

When an employee sustains an injury or illness in the workplace and files a workers’ comp claim, they can typically do so without fear of being fired. Legally, employers are prohibited from justifiably terminating employees on the basis of any workers’ comp claim. This form of termination is illegal under both federal and state laws.

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) states that employers cannot retaliate against those who decide to exercise their right to file a workers’ compensation claim. Other provisions protecting employees include state workers’ compensation statutes and the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), more commonly known as the Whistleblower Protection Law, which protects employees from retaliatory termination for reporting hazardous working conditions. In addition, various labor organizations exist at both the state and national level to protect workers against unfair employment practices such as wrongful discharge.

Generally speaking, employers must treat injured employees in the same manner, both legally and ethically, as all other members of the organization regardless if a workers’ comp claim has been filed or not. However, some employers may take advantage of the vulnerable position of an employee plagued with injury or illness resulting from a work-related incident. Firing these individuals can have a substantial impact on their ability to receive proper medical treatment, lost wages and other expenses caused by their injury through workers’ compensation insurance benefits.

At times one may find themselves in an ethical dilemma when considering filing a workers’ comp claim if they believe their employer may be adversely impacted due to potential rate increases; however, no employee should have to make this difficult decision between their job security and receiving medical care related to their work-related injury or illness.

Leading into the next section: Employers who choose to ignore legal protections surrounding workers’ comp claims can face severe risks such as hefty fines and litigation from current or past employees alike. Therefore, it is important for employers to understand what types of behaviors might lead them down this path of legal trouble and how best to avoid it in the following section about: “Employer Retaliation for Workers Comp Claims”.

Employer Retaliation for Workers Comp Claims

When an employee files a workers’ comp claim, employers may not retaliate against them for doing so. In certain instances, such as in California and some other states, retaliation for filing of a workers’ comp claim is illegal. The specifics of these laws vary from state to state. In some cases, an employer may attempt to fire an employee for filing a legal claim against them.

If an employer has done this, the employee can take legal action to get justice. Employees who have filed a workers’ comp claim and think they are being punished or retaliated against can contact their lawyer or file a complaint with their respective state or federal agency responsible for enforcing labor laws such as the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). It is important to keep in mind that filing a complaint against the employer is often financially beneficial to both parties as it provides the injured party with compensation and forces the employer to adhere to regulations they would otherwise ignore.

It must also be noted that it is not always a bad thing when an employer terminates the employment of an employee who has recently filed a workers’ comp claim. There are situations where layoffs are due to business restructuring, downsizing, or economic downturns that have nothing to do with the individual filing the claim. It is up to the court system to determine whether or not an employer was in fact retaliating against an employee for filing a worker’s comp claim.

In summary, although worker compensation claims are often viewed as evidence of employer negligence or misconduct, employers should not be allowed to retaliate against their employees by terminating them simply because they have filed these claims. Employees must be aware of their rights and know that if they believe their employer has done this, there are legal avenues through which justice can be sought.

The next section addresses: “What Rights Do Injured Employees Have?”.

What Rights Do Injured Employees Have?

Under state and federal law, injured employees have certain rights and benefits regarding workers’ compensation. The issue of employee rights is complex, as the specifics of these laws vary from location to location. Employers are obligated to carry insurance that provides coverage for workers injured on the job or while performing job duties. Generally speaking, employees who suffer a work-related injury can expect certain benefits if they choose to file a workers’ compensation claim.

For example, many states require employers to provide wages for any work time an employee misses due to illness or injury. The employee might receive payment for medical bills, lost wages, and other related expenses such as rehabilitation costs. If a disability results from an accident, the employee may also be entitled to long term financial support from the employer and/or their insurance provider.

However, it is important to note that in some states there are legal restrictions on how employees can access workers’ compensation benefits. In some jurisdictions it is illegal for an employer to fire or otherwise retaliate against an employee for making a workers’ comp claim, but in others employers can legally terminate an employee’s employment upon filing a claim. This highlights the importance of researching applicable laws before taking action.

The debate around employee rights when filing a worker’s compensation claim largely hinges on balancing fairness with cost considerations. On one hand, employees deserve to have adequate protection and support when suffering injury due to workplace conditions. On the other hand, companies must consider the cost impacts related to providing such protections – which could reduce company profits or lead to staffing changes in order to remain operational.

Ultimately, regardless of standards in individual states, all employees have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim when they suffer injury on the job and should understand their local laws ahead of doing so.

Next section: Employee Rights Under Federal Law: An injured employee’s rights are not limited solely to those outlined within State regulations; there are also provisions offered through federal laws which employees should be familiar with prior to filing a worker’s compensation claim.

Employee Rights Under Federal Law

The answer to the question of whether employees can be fired for filing a workers’ compensation claim is complex. It ultimately will depend on both federal and state laws which govern employment. Generally speaking, under federal law employers cannot terminate an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim; however, there are exceptions to every rule.

In general, the anti-retaliation provisions of the Occupational Safety & Health Act generally protect workers who report or file a complaint regarding unsafe workplace conditions or exercise other rights under the Act. This extends to those who make complaints to government agencies such as OSHA or testify in proceedings related to the Act.

Additionally, according to the Federal Civil Rights Act, an employer is prohibited from discriminating against any employee or job applicant based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. When it comes to workplace safety matters, an employer could potentially face claims of discrimination if termination was based on a workers’ compensation claim because of these protected statuses.

On the other hand, some federal laws may provide certain exemptions to employers that allow them to terminate an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim if they are following procedures as outlined in their policies and/or applicable state law. For example, while many states do not extend protection to at-will employees, others may require employers to provide documentation or notice prior to terminating someone who has filed a workers’ compensation claim; failure to adhere could result in additional legal action taken by the terminated worker.

Employers should also be aware that workers’ compensation claims cannot be considered when making hiring decisions; this includes both potential and current employees that have applied for jobs with an organization. Employers should also remember that discrimination based on an employee’s receipt of workers’ comp benefits is illegal under federal law including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

In conclusion, it is critical for employers to ensure compliance with all relevant federal laws before taking any action against an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim in order to avoid potential legal consequences. Knowing this information can help protect everyone involved from any potential legal issues that may arise from wrongful termination.

To further complicate matters, individual states have also passed legislation related to this issue which creates variations in terms of what rights employees have depending on where they reside and work. The next section will discuss employee rights under state laws.

Employee Rights Under State Laws

Employee rights under state laws vary, making it difficult to answer the question “Can you get fired for filing a workers’ comp claim?” affirmatively. Most states do provide some level of legal protection to employees who decide to file for compensation benefits after suffering an illness or injury related to their job. Usually, employees who assert these rights cannot be terminated subsequent to their claim submission without good cause. Furthermore, there are usually specific processes that employers must complete in order to be legally allowed to terminate an employee with a workers’ comp claim.

For example, in Pennsylvania, employers cannot fire an employee on the basis of a workers’ comp claim they have filed. The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act states that if any action is taken by the employer resulting in termination or retaliation against the worker in response to submitting a valid and proper application for compensation benefits through the proper channels, then the worker is allowed to file suit and seek reinstatement with back pay. In Oregon and many other states, it is illegal for employers to penalize workers for filing or pursuing legitimate claims for workers’ compensation benefits.

On the other hand, there are some states that offer no protection from discrimination or termination due to a workers’ comp claim. For instance, under North Carolina law, there is no express provision prohibiting employer retaliation or wrongful termination of employees due to filing a workers’ comp claim; thus allowing employers in the state to fire employees legally upon claiming benefits. It is important for employees claiming workers’ comp benefits in all states across the nation to know their employment rights under applicable state laws.

Leading into the next section: Alternatives to Firing an Injured Worker exist as well but should still be carefully considered before implementation.

Alternatives to Firing an Injured Worker

When an employee files a workers’ compensation claim, termination may not be the only option to deal with their injury. Depending on the severity of the situation and the state laws, there are numerous other alternatives that organizations can consider to handle the injured worker without having to take them down the extreme route of firing.

For instance, if an employee was injured with minor injuries that would not stop them from continuing to work, modified duties could be introduced to adjust the amount of tasks they have to perform as well as putting restrictions on how much they lift or move. They could also reduce their tasks while also reducing their working hours temporarily. Furthermore, providing appropriate accommodations such as ergonomic furniture could help make it easier for them to complete their tasks. Such alternatives can be beneficial for both parties as it allows for flexibility in terms of what is expected from each party and even helps prevent other claims from arising.

On the other hand, some argue that implementing alternative measures when workers’ comp claims are filed gives employees an overall sense of leeway and can potentially encourage more claims. Taking disciplinary actions or sometimes just reminding employees about the costs associated with filing false claims through extra training or monitoring can reduce this chance significantly. If a claim is found out to be fraudulent then taking disciplinary action against such employees serves as a deterrent for those who may want to take advantage of such orders.

These alternatives can also be beneficial in cases where employers attempt to fire an employee due to health-related limitations or disabilities instead of providing reasonable accommodations like modifying their tasks and duties. The chances of successful litigation by workers in these situations is alarmingly high since provides legal protection against marginalizing an employee due to medical disabilities.

As such, while taking disciplinary action against workers who file false workers’ comp claims might seem desirable in order to minimize costs relating to these kinds of accusations and lawsuits, it should also be noted that when faced with genuine injuries, terminating an employee should still remain the last resort for employers, especially if manageable solutions already exist within the workplace environment.


In conclusion, firing an employee who files a workers’ compensation claim should still remain a last resort for employers after all alternatives have been considered. Employers should keep in mind the importance of providing reasonable accommodations before dismissing a worker who has sustained injuries on-the-job and understand the potential risks involved with disregarding such regulations put into place by state laws to protect both parties against any frivolous litigation that may arise. In the next section we will discuss overall conclusions around when it is acceptable or unacceptable for an employer to fire a worker who has filed a workers comp claim.


The question of whether an employee can be fired for filing a workers’ compensation claim is a complex one. While there are some statutes and laws that protect employees from being fired for filing a worker’s compensation claim, these protections are not absolute in every circumstance. It is important for employees to understand their rights, and to know when an employer’s actions may cross the line into illegal retaliation. In some cases, an employer may need to find other means of dealing with an employee filing a worker’s compensation claim.

On the other hand, employers also have the right to manage their business and to protect their interests as long as they act within the scope of the law. Employers should review applicable laws in their state or jurisdiction before taking any disciplinary action against an employee so that they are aware of any penalties they face if they violate those laws. Ultimately, both employers and employees should be mindful of one another’s rights so that they can help create safe workplaces where workers feel comfortable asking for the help they need when injuries or illnesses occur.

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), over 20% of employees who reported workplace injuries or illnesses were fired or suspended by their employer in 2019.
  • A 2005 study found that approximately 8% of employees who made claims for workers’ compensation benefits reported being terminated shortly after making the claim.
  • A study conducted in 2018 concluded that a large majority (over 84%) of employers cannot terminate an employee solely on the basis of filing a workers’ compensation claim.

Frequently Asked Questions and Responses

What potential consequences could an employee face if they are fired for filing a workers’ compensation claim?

If an employee is fired for filing a workers’ compensation claim, they may face legal action from the company or their employer. This can include financial penalties, being held liable for damages, and even criminal prosecution in some cases. Additionally, it may be difficult for the employee to find new employment due to the negative mark that would be left on their record. Furthermore, they could potentially lose out on more compensation than they would have gained through their workers’ compensation claim. It is important to note though that employers are generally not allowed to take harsh retaliatory action against an employee who has filed a workers’ compensation claim, so depending on the situation of the case it may be worth seeking legal advice.

Are there any exceptions to the rules protecting workers who file workers’ compensation claims?

Yes, there are some exceptions to the rules protecting those who file workers’ compensation claims. Depending on the circumstances of the incident and type of job involved, some employers may be allowed to terminate an employee for filing a claim. For example, if an employee is in a drug-free workplace and tests positive for drugs while performing a job that requires operating machinery, they could potentially be fired even if they were injured while doing so. Similarly, a company may have the grounds to terminate an employee who was acting recklessly or disregarding safety instructions when injured. These scenarios can vary from state to state, so it’s important for employees to familiarize themselves with their local laws before filing a claim.

What are the legal protections against termination after filing a workers’ compensation claim?

The legal protections against termination after filing a workers’ compensation claim are established by the state in which the injury occurred. Most states have some form of protection, known as “anti-retaliation” laws, that protect employees from discrimination or dismissal if they bring a claim.

In general, employers are prohibited from terminating an employee simply because they are legally pursuing workers’ compensation benefits—this type of retaliation is illegal and grounds for a lawsuit. It is important to note, however, that some states only prohibit discrimination on the basis of an existing condition or disability that requires workers’ compensation.

Additionally, there is a federal law known as the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) which offers further protection for railroad workers who become injured on the job. Under FELA, employers may not terminate or cut benefits because of a worker’s injuries or attempts to claim compensation for them.

It is also important to remember that an employer can still lay you off due to financial constraints—as long as it is not done systematically to discourage workers from filing claims. Generally speaking, employers cannot fire employees without good cause and in those cases, your best bet is to contact an attorney immediately.