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HR Tip: Be careful terminating an employee who is out on workers’ comp
While terminating an employee who has filed a workers’ compensation claim is not outright prohibited, employers must take great care to avoid a situation where it is deemed that an employee was fired solely because of the workers’ compensation claim. Even if there are legitimate reasons for termination, any termination that occurs close on the heels of a workplace injury or illness could be viewed as discriminatory or retaliatory and could be considered wrongful termination. Employers must be able to prove that the work comp claim was not the reason for termination.
In a recent blog, East Coast Risk Management, a member of the Institute of WorkComp Professionals, outlines the potential penalties for wrongful termination and the factors employers need to carefully consider before terminating a worker on or returning from workers’ comp.
It’s important to note that retaliation for workers’ comp involves more than termination. Actions that can be construed as retaliation or discriminatory can include:
- Demoting the employee
- Changes in the employee’s position or responsibilities or job title
- Negative feedback on the employment evaluation with no just cause
- Reducing the employee’s salary or hourly rate
- Changes in work hours or giving the employee the worst schedule
- Disciplinary action when it is not warranted