Can My Employer Fire Me If I File a Workers Comp Claim?
Many workers injured on the job have a fear that their employer will fire them or punish them in some way if they file a workers’ compensation claim. Getting injured on the job is a stressful enough situation, as you face mounting medical bills, time away from work, and other aggravating factors, and one shouldn’t also need to worry about losing their job as a result of a work injury.
Worker’s compensation, although not mandatory for employers to carry in the state of Texas, is something meant to protect both employees and employers in the event of on-the-job injuries. Employees are protected by knowing that they have compensation for an on the job injury and employers are protected from most lawsuits by injured employees.
This system would seem to be straight forward and beneficial for both parties but worrying about losing your job as a result of filing a claim would obviously negate the benefits afforded to employees. What many employees don’t realize is that Texas Labor Laws protect workers against any form of retribution or discrimination because of a workers’ comp claim. Section 451.001 of the Texas Labor Code states that an employer cannot fire or discriminate against an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim in “good faith,” has hired a lawyer to represent them in a claim or has testified or is about to testify in a proceeding. This protection also applies to coworkers who may testify on your behalf or would protect you in the event that you need to testify on behalf of a coworker.
So, the law does protect you from being fired or facing discrimination so long as the claim was brought forth in good faith. If the claim was not in good faith, then an employer may have grounds to fire you. In this case, good faith simply means that your claim is valid and not in any way deceitful. For instance, if you were just looking for some paid time off and essentially injured yourself on purpose, then your claim would be in bad faith since it was self-inflicted and intentional, meaning that your employer would be entitled to fire you and the law would back them up in that decision. But if your claim was filed in good faith and you suffered an unfortunate on-the-job injury, then you have a valid claim for workers’ compensation and you rightfully deserve compensation for your injuries, medical bills, and missed paychecks.
Texas is also what is considered an at-will employment state which means that you can be fired for any reason or for no reason at all. While you are protected when filing a workers’ comp claim, there have been instances where an employee was placed on light or restricted duties and then unfairly fired on the grounds that they were fired because of poor job performance in their new duties.
The laws are in place to protect innocent victims who need compensation for their injuries and may otherwise have trouble making ends meet. These laws can help you get back on your feet and not suffer unduly as a result of your injury, but that can all be undermined by an unscrupulous employer.
If you have lost your job after filing for workers’ compensation or while on restricted work duty in Texas, then it is important that you speak with an experienced work injury attorney like those at Fears Nachawati. Our team is here to defend your rights as a worker and protect your job, and we have handled all manner of work injury claims and helped many navigate the often-complicated world of workers’ compensation claims or personal injury lawsuits.
For your free, no-obligation legal consultation, please call (866) 705-7584, or visit the offices of Fears Nachawati located throughout the great state of Texas, including in Houston, Dallas, Austin, Fort Worth, and San Antonio.