The threat of being fired or laid off is a major concern for many employees who are injured on the job and are considering workers' compensation. However, it is actually illegal for an employer to terminate an employee who is seeking workers' compensation benefits, has hired an attorney for an injury claim, or is otherwise acting in good faith after an injury at work.
Texas Law Prohibits Firing an Employee for Collecting Workers’ Compensation
Section 451 of the Texas Labor Code expressly forbids discriminating against employees for filing valid workers' compensation claims. The law dictates that no person may discharge or in any other manner discriminate against any employee who has:
- Filed a “good faith” workers’ compensation claim for a compensable job-related injury
- Contacted or engaged the services of an attorney for the explanation and protection of the employee’s rights or to represent the employee in a workers’ compensation court
- Instituted any actions protected under workers' compensation laws in good faith
- Testified or will testify in a legal proceeding involving a workers’ compensation claim (protection is given for both injured employees and coworkers who are testifying on behalf of the injured employee)
The purpose of these laws is to allow injured employees to be treated fairly and receive adequate compensation after an injury on the job. After all, workers’ compensation would not offer no-fault protection for injured workers if the worker could simply be fired at will by the employer after an accident. As long as an injured employee genuinely needs compensation to recover from an on-the-job injury, the right to payment shall be protected under state law.
What If I Was Fired While Pursuing Workers’ Comp Benefits?
If any employee is fired in retaliation for filing a workers' compensation claim, it is a clear violation of the labor law and grounds to file a wrongful termination lawsuit. However, in order to prove that the labor code has been violated, the employee must be shown to have acted “in good faith.”
“Good faith” is a legal term meaning with honest intention or without intent to deceive. While the majority of worker’s compensation claims are made in good faith, it is worth examining the details of your case to ensure that all of the information is correct and truthful. Any misrepresentation of the facts on your part may be seen as deceit, and can result in the denial of benefits as well as legal dismissal from your job.
Some examples of claims that are not filed in good faith may include:
- Payment for treatment that was not medically necessary
- Filing a claim for an injury that was not work-related
- Claiming a previous injury that was not related to a compensable condition
- Filing for benefits after being declared fit for previous employment
- Claiming that an accident or injury is worse than it is to maximize benefits
- Lying about the circumstances of the accident to hide employee responsibility
- Collecting workers’ compensation disability while illegally performing sustainable work
- Continuing to cash a deceased person’s workers’ compensation checks
- Lying about the injuries sustained or treatment received
- Filing a claim for an injury that the employee caused on purpose
- Filing for benefits for an injury sustained while the employee was drunk or on drugs
- Asking coworkers to lie to support a false work injury claim
Although there is a persistent myth that employees file thousands of bad faith claims every year, the truth is most workers’ compensation claims are entirely valid. As long as you were working within the scope of your employment and suffered a significant injury, you rightfully deserve payment for your medical treatment and lost income.
If your employer is treating you differently or is threatening to fire after you filed a workers’ comp claim, we can help. Our attorneys can work to get you reinstated with back pay, ensure your benefits continue, and even explore your options to get additional compensation through a work injury lawsuit. Contact the Packard Law Firm today to tell us more about your case in your free consultation. Anything you tell us is confidential, and we do not charge anything unless we win your case.