When an employee is giving workers’ compensation benefits and actually given leave to take time off work and recover, there is a pervading idea that their job is secure while they are away. Even though a workers’ compensation program will never state it, most workers come to an assumption that they cannot be fired on leave, or else it represents a massive employment law infraction. But is there any truth to this assumption? Or is it a modern day tall tale?
On Leave, Laid Off
The concept that workers have job immunity while on workers’ compensation leave is an unfortunately common misunderstanding. While it is true that no one can be fired, terminated, or let go because they are on leave, it is not true that they cannot lose their job for other reasons. Most commonly, if a company is forced to downsize and start lay-offs, a person on workers’ compensation leave could be one of the people to go.
It sounds pretty suspicious on the surface but there is actually legal footing for an employer to stand on in this regard. When conducting lay-offs, an employer has to conduct employee research to determine who represents the most valuable assets to the company. People who are underperforming or those in a branch of the company that is being shuttered will likely be laid off. Workers’ compensation leave does nothing to provide shelter from this selection.
Matters become questionable if there is no clear reason why an employee on workers’ comp leave was chosen to be laid off. This could indicate some sort of workplace discrimination or retaliation for becoming injured and seeking fair compensation. Imagine the scenario in which a company chooses to lay-off its entire public relations department plus one person in accounting who was on workers’ compensation leave for a repetitive stress injury. That randomness would understandably raise a few eyebrows and warrant some sort of investigation.
Were you laid off while on workers’ compensation leave but not given a good reason why you were selected? It very well could be the result of discrimination against you for being unable to work. Contact The Law Offices of Nathaniel F. Hansford, LLC and our Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyers to learn more about your rights and how to file a claim.