When you suffer an injury at work in Pennsylvania, you may receive compensation through a workers’ compensation claim.
Your workers compensation’ benefits allow you to pay your medical bills and take care of your family while you recover from your injury. Many injury victims legitimately could not survive financially without workers’ compensation benefits.
Yes, they can fire you, but must have a valid reason
Although you should be able to count on going back to work once your injury heals, the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act allows your employer to lay you off or terminate you while you are receiving workers’ compensation.
However, your employer must have a valid reason for firing you. It is illegal for your employer to fire you as revenge or retaliation against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim.
Your employer must prove their reason
For example, your employer may fire you while you have a workers’ compensation claim open if it is part of a mass layoff or they had already planned to terminate you before your injury. They must provide evidence to back up the termination, such as documents showing the planned layoffs or detailed records showing the reasons for your termination.
Although your employer may provide evidence that there was a valid reason for your termination, you can challenge this evidence if you truly believe their underlying reason for firing you was retaliation.
How you can prove retaliation
Proving retaliation is challenging. You must provide your own evidence to counter theirs, such as documentation showing a connection between the filing of your workers’ compensation claim and your subsequent termination.
It will probably come as a relief to know that you are entitled to continue receiving your workers’ compensation benefits even if you are fired for a legitimate reason. Depending on your circumstances, you might also qualify for occupational retraining benefits, to allow you to acquire new skills to help you find another job.
Recovering from a work injury is difficult enough without worrying about not having a job. It is good to get professional advice on your situation if you are terminated while receiving workers’ compensation benefits.