Florida is an “at-will'' state when it comes to employment, meaning that an employer can terminate a worker for just about any reason. An employer cannot, however, terminate a worker because they are receiving workers’ compensation benefits or filed a claim in the first place. Yet, employers still try to find ways to cut ties with injured workers, retaliating under the guise of some other business reason.
Employer Retaliation is Illegal
Florida Statute 440.205 prohibits employers from terminating, threatening termination, intimidating or coercing employees who have filed or are in the process of filing a workers’ compensation claim. However, there are still ways that an employer could potentially wrongfully terminate an employee while on workers’ compensation. The employer can cite non-malicious reasonings such as:
- Financial struggles or budget cuts.
- Job position is no longer needed.
- Poor performance.
- No reason whatsoever.
Will I Still Receive My Benefits if I’m Fired?
Proving that you were wrongfully terminated while on workers’ compensation is challenging, especially in Florida, however you should know that your benefits will not be affected. Florida’s workers’ compensation system ensures that injured workers receive payments until they have fully recovered or have achieved maximum medical improvement (MMI).
The only way in which workers’ compensation would not continue to pay out upon termination is if the worker was fired for cause. Being terminated for cause means that an employee was fired for some form of egregious misconduct. Employers will tend to fire for cause in an effort to prevent workers’ compensation benefits from paying out and insurance premiums from increasing.
How Can I Prove Wrongful Termination?
If you suspect that you were the victim of retaliation by your employer for filing a workers’ compensation claim, you generally have to prove three criteria:
- The worker engaged in a “statutorily protected activity” (i.e. filed a workers’ comp claim.)
- The worker experienced an “adverse employment action” (i.e. termination.)
- The “statutorily protected activity” and the “adverse employment action” had a causal relationship.
Essentially, you must prove that you filed a worker’s comp claim, that you were terminated (or experienced harassment, coercion, etc.) afterwards and that there was a connection between the two. Establishing a connection can be difficult to prove, as your employer may refer to one of the reasons mentioned above as to why you were terminated. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help make sure that you have the sufficient evidence necessary to prove your case.
Keep Documentation of Evidence
If you are wrongfully terminated while on disability leave, it is important to document all evidence in order to build a strong case against your employer. This may include keeping a journal of events leading up to and after your termination, as well as any communications you have with your employer about your leave.
Additionally, gathering witness statements from co-workers or other individuals who may have witnessed the events leading to your termination can be helpful in proving your case.
How Can An Attorney Help?
A workers' compensation attorney can help you in the gathering of evidence and ensure that you receive the full benefits to which you are entitled. In some cases, an attorney can also help you get your job back or obtain other relief if you have been wrongfully terminated.
Workers' Compensation Attorneys in Hollywood, FL
Rosenberg & Rosenberg, P.A. can help you receive the maximum compensation to which you are entitled by law. We will work tirelessly on your behalf to get you the full amount of benefits you deserve. You should not have to worry about how you will pay your bills or support your family while you are recovering from a workplace injury, and we will do everything we can to make sure you get the money you need.
If you were involved in a workplace accident that resulted in injury, call us today at (888) 499-6206 to schedule a free initial consultation.