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Can You be Fired for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim?

Employees in California are entitled to compensation if they are injured on the job, and more importantly, they have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim without fear of retaliation. Unfortunately, however, there are several employers out there who take workers’ compensation claims personally and who may attempt to fire an injured worker as a result. This is not legal. If you were injured on the job in California, you have the right and responsibility to report your injury in a timely fashion to your immediate supervisor. This is done to ensure that you are a valid claimant, you are compensated for your damages,  and to ensure that no other employee is harmed in the same manner. The same is true for work-related illnesses. When injuries, illnesses, or conditions are reported, there are certain steps that the employer must take—none of which include retaliating against the employee or letting him or her go.

If you were injured on the job and if you are worried about how your employer might react to a workers’ compensation claim—or if you were injured on the job, filed a workers’ compensation claim, and have been fired as a result—reach out to the Riverside workers’ compensation specialist at Heiting & Irwin right away. You have legal rights, and our team will make sure that those rights are not overlooked or ignored.

When an Employer Retaliates

First and foremost, it is important to understand that California is generally an employment “at-will” state, meaning that an employer can fire an employee at any time, for any reason, or for no reason. Employees can also quit whenever they want, with or without reason. In addition to being able to hire and fire people at will, California employers are also allowed to reassign or assign duties as they please. Some employers may assign an employee particularly demanding or mundane tasks in order to get them to quit. This is referred to as “constructive termination.”

While at-will employment makes sense a majority of the time, it can make it difficult for injured employees who have file a workers’ compensation claim to claim retaliation. Though retaliation is against California law, unless an employer comes outright and says, “I fired you/made your work life miserable because you filed a claim against the company,” (which no employer in their right mind would do), it can be difficult to prove retaliation. That said, it is not impossible.

A Riverside, California, workers’ compensation specialist knows that in order to prove retaliation, one must first examine the timing of events. For instance, it would be suspicious if any of the following were to happen after an employee reported an injury:

  • Their job duties changed drastically and in a negative way;
  • The employee got reassigned to a tough supervisor who is known for making people quit;
  • The employee’s hours and/or pay were cut and/or they got demoted directly after filing their claim;
  • The employer and/or managers began harassing the employee after the injury; and/or
  • The employee was fired outright directly after reporting the injury.

If any of the above sounds familiar to your situation, it is likely that your employee is retaliating against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim. If this is the case, it is time to hire an aggressive workers’ compensation lawyer.

Common Excuses Given by Employers

As we mentioned above, it can be difficult to prove retaliation. When companies are called out on their wrongdoings, they come up with excuses, many of which run along the same lines. If your company gave any one of the following excuses, it may be that they fired your or demoted you in retaliation:

  • They were downsizing;
  • Business is slow and so they needed to lay-off a few people; or
  • You were no longer able to perform the essential functions of your job. (Even if this is true, you have certain rights that we can explain and support)

Turn to a Skilled Riverside Workers’ Compensation Attorney

Dealing with a work-related injury is difficult in and of itself, and for most people, the decision to file a workers’ compensation claim is not made lightly.  When an employer does retaliate, they are adding insult to injury (no pun intended). Though the road to recovery and justice may be a long one, it is worth pursuing. Do not let your legal rights get pushed aside.  Reach out to the aggressive Riverside workers’ compensation specialist at Heiting & Irwin for help. Contact us online today.

If you have been injured in a work-related accident, contact Heiting & Irwin, APLC, serving San Bernardino & Riverside Counties, Southern California, and all of California


Mr. Serrano has been admitted to practice before California State and Federal Courts. He was named to the Super Lawyers’ 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 Southern California Rising Stars List, an honor awarded to no more than 2.5% of attorneys in Southern California each year. View Attorney Jean-Simon Serrano's Attorney Bio Here.

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