If you are currently off work following a work-related accident—and are receiving New Jersey workers’ compensation benefits—you may wonder whether you could potentially be fired while you are recuperating. The short answer is that while you cannot be fired in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim you could be fired while you are drawing workers’ compensation if your employer can show there were reasons for your firing which had nothing to do with your WC claim.
New Jersey, like many other states, is considered an employment-at-will state, meaning an employer can terminate an employee at any time, for any reason (or no reason) unless there is an agreement between employer and employee which provides otherwise. In the same vein, a New Jersey employee can resign from his or her job for any reason or no reason.
Retaliatory Firing is Illegal, However Termination for Other Legal Reasons are Allowed
If you are a New Jersey worker who is uncertain about your current employment situation, then it is highly likely you are considered an “at-will” employee. Your employment could be terminated based on prior poor work performance, company financial problems resulting in the need for layoffs, restructuring in the company, or any other legal reason. If you have filed a workers’ compensation claim in the state of New Jersey, your employer may well have a motive to terminate your employment, however it would not be legal for the employer to say this. In fact, if your employer were to actually tell you that you were being terminated because you had filed a workers’ compensation claim, then you could certainly file a lawsuit for retaliatory termination.
Contract Employees Under Different Rules
If you happen to be a contract employee, then your employment contract should list specific reasons your employer could potentially terminate your employment. As an example, your employment contract could contain a provision which allows termination should you be unable to work for a specific length of time. If you have an employment contract and it contains this type of clause, firing you while you are off work duty and collecting workers’ compensation could be legal.
If you have no employment contract with such a clause, then retaliatory termination is certainly illegal, however it would be the rare employer who would tell an employee he or she was being fired for collecting workers’ compensation. If you were fired while collecting workers’ compensation—and you suspect that was the reason for your firing—it is imperative that you gather evidence to substantiate your suspicion and that you speak to an experienced New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney immediately.
Have You Been Fired after Collecting New Jersey Workers’ Compensation?
If you or someone you love has been fired after collecting or filing for workers’ compensation, you may have cause to file a claim. To learn more about your rights, call the Vineland, New Jersey workers’ compensation attorneys at Rosner Law Offices, P.C. today for a free initial consultation and review of your case. Contact us at (856) 692-6500 or fill out our confidential contact form. Our office is conveniently located in Vineland, New Jersey and we are ready to help you through this difficult time. Call today!