When you’re injured at work, you probably fear for the lost wages you will suffer due to being out of work while you heal. As workers’ compensation attorneys, one of the most common questions we receive is, “Can I get fired for filing a workers’ compensation claim?”
Whether your employer is pressuring you to quit or threatening you with termination, you should know the protections you have under Minnesota law.
Employee Retaliation in Minnesota
In Minnesota, it is illegal for your employer to terminate you for seeking workers’ compensation benefits. In addition, the law states that your employer cannot intentionally try to stop you from pursuing disability benefits.
If your employer terminates you for seeking disability benefit after being injured at work, they are in violation of the workers’ compensation retaliation statute and could be held liable for wrongful termination.
While your injury heals, you may be able to return to work but can only perform certain job functions. Minnesota law states that your employer must offer you continued work within your physical limitations if it is available. If your employer fails to do this, you could hold them liable in civil court for one year’s worth of wages.
Your Rights as an Injured Worker
The damages you can be compensated for in a wrongful termination civil lawsuit are different from the compensation you may receive through a workers’ compensation claim alone.
For instance, as an injured worker, you may be entitled to compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages or lost earning capacity
- Rehabilitation benefits
Under the retaliation statute, you may additionally be entitled to compensation for:
- Punitive damages
- Pain and suffering
- Attorney fees
The language in the retaliation law explicitly states that your employer cannot even “threaten” you with termination for seeking benefits. In 2014, the Minnesota Supreme Court upheld a case in which an employee was told not to file a workers’ comp claim or risk being terminated
The employer never fired the employee or took any action against him, but the court still awarded him damages under the retaliation statute.
Protecting You From Wrongful Termination
If you suspect your employer has terminated you because you filed for workers’ compensation benefits or plan to do so, you need seasoned legal representation. An experienced workers’ comp attorney can help look at the situation from a few different angles, such as:
- What reasons did your employer give for your termination?
- How soon after your work injury were you terminated or threatened with termination?
- Are there any documents about your termination? (If so, make sure to save them!)
- Did your coworkers, direct supervisors, or employer make any comments about your work injury?
- Prior to being terminated, were you reprimanded or disciplined at work?
- What types of feedback had you gotten about your work performance prior to your work injury?
Once we look at the entirety of the situation, we can start building your case and determine whether you have been wrongfully terminated or threatened with termination for filing benefits. If this is indeed the case for you, you are absolutely entitled to additional compensation from your disability benefits.
We genuinely understand the fear and uncertainty that can arise after being injured at work. At Midwest Disability, our workers’ compensation attorneys are here to listen to your situation and work hard as your legal advocates. We have helped over 10,000 injured workers across Minnesota. Let us put our experience to work for you so you can focus on your recovery.