When you're injured at work, you have the right to submit a claim with worker's comp and get paid for any damages and losses you suffered. To avoid paying the claim or just to be spiteful, some employers will fire employees who file for worker's comp. This is called retaliatory termination and is completely illegal, but proving it can be very challenging. Here are a couple of things you can do to make your case and obtain the outcome you desire.
Create a Timeline of Events
Sometimes employers will tell on themselves and communicate to employees they were specifically fired because of their worker's comp claims. If this occurs in a way that can be recorded (e.g. email, letter, voicemail message), you can submit that evidence to prove your case and receive compensation for your damages.
Most employers are a bit savvier than that, though, and will hide their true intentions behind other excuses. For instance, the employer may claim the worker was fired for poor performance even though the employee's performance reviews tell a different story. In cases like this, you'll need to rely on circumstantial evidence to make your case and a timeline of events can be really helpful in connecting the dots.
For instance, your boss does your performance review and you receive an excellent score. A month later, you experience an injury on the job and file a worker's comp claim. Your boss confronts you about the claim and then fires you three days later claiming you're a poor worker. Writing out the timeline of events can make it easier to show your boss' true motivation.
Include as many relevant events as possible, including conversations you've had with other employees about the situation and unusual actions by the employer (e.g. cuts down your hours, suddenly becomes more critical of your work). Even the smallest detail could be the one that brings your case together.
Review Your Employee Handbook
To make sure everyone is on the same page, companies create employee handbooks that detail their policies, procedures, and expectations. This can be invaluable in proving wrongful termination because it can show your employer violated company policy by firing you.
For example, the handbook states you should receive several warnings and/or writeups for infractions before being terminated. However, your boss skipped all those steps and just fired you. You could make the case your worker's comp claim was the motivating factor; otherwise, your boss would have followed procedure if your performance was really the issue.
Although proving you were fired because you filed a worker's comp claim can be challenging, there are a number of things you can do to make your case. Contact a worker's compensation attorney for assistance with this and other issues related to your claim.