In South Carolina, can I be fired for filing a workers’ compensation claim?
One of the reasons many injured workers hesitate before filing workers’ compensation claims is the fear that their employer could lash out, potentially demoting or even firing them for raising the issue. The good news is that the law protects injured workers and can be used to punish those employers who retaliate against genuinely injured employees. To find out more about what the law says, keep reading.
Can your boss fire you for filing a workers’ comp claim?
The short answer is no. This is because the law exists to protect injured workers from what is known as retaliatory termination by an employer. It is illegal for an employer to terminate a worker for simply reporting a workplace injury or filing a workers’ compensation claim.
Why are workers protected?
The law was written to discourage such retaliation for a very good reason: so that workers wouldn’t be afraid to come forward and reveal dangerous workplace conditions. If employers were allowed to simply dismiss any worker that complained about dangerous conditions, the result would be vastly more dangerous workplaces. By protecting workers, the hope is that employers have an incentive to invest time and money in securing the work environment.
What does the law require?
Injured workers are specifically protected after filing a workers’ comp claim and are given the time they need to recover from the injuries they sustained. The law says that employers are required to keep workers on during the course of their claim until they have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). MMI refers to the moment when doctors agree the person’s condition is not likely to continue to improve further.
After a person has reached MMI, his or her employer will need to assess their current work restrictions and is obligated to make reasonable efforts to accommodate any restrictions that result from their workplace injury. The goal is to allow workers to try and continue performing their previous jobs. Assuming your employer is able to accommodate you, they must.
As we’ve already mentioned, employees are protected from retaliatory termination for filing workers’ comp claims. However, it is possible that some especially heartless employers may simply make up a different reason to justify firing an injured worker. In some cases, an employer could claim that the firing was due to poor work performance prior to the injury. Should such a thing happen, it is critical that you reach out to an experienced South Carolina injury attorney as soon as possible. An experienced attorney can help you fight not only for the return of your job, but also for the workers’ compensation benefits to which you are entitled.
Although it is almost inevitable that accidents will happen at work, under South Carolina law, employers are still responsible for keeping the workplace safe for all staff members. If you have been hurt on the job, contact David R. Price, Jr., P.A., to learn more about how to file for workers’ compensation benefits.