Dealing with a workplace injury can be tough, and the last thing you need is the added stress of job insecurity. In Michigan, workers’ compensation is designed to cushion the financial blow that can accompany a workplace injury, allowing you to focus on healing. In this blog post, our Michigan workers’ compensation lawyers discuss whether your employer can fire you while on workers’ compensation.

Understanding Workers’ Compensation 

Workers’ compensation in Michigan is a no-fault insurance system that employers are required to have. It provides benefits like medical care and wage replacement if you get hurt at work. For many injured workers, workers’ compensation benefits are the only thing that keeps them financially afloat while recovering from their injury. Workers’ compensation lawyers help injured workers navigate the complex claims process and ensure their rights are protected.

Michigan Law on Employment Termination

Michigan law, while not explicitly protecting employment, does offer a shield against retaliatory termination for workers’ compensation claims. The law emphasizes the continuity of benefits and encourages employers to work collaboratively with employees towards a full recovery and return to work.

Here is a breakdown of the reasons why you cannot be terminated while on workers’ compensation in Michigan:

  1. Retaliation: The primary protection afforded to employees is against retaliation:
    • It is illegal in Michigan to terminate an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim or for reporting a workplace injury.
    • Employers need to exercise caution as any attempt to terminate an employee to limit workers’ compensation benefits or for reasons related to the injury could expose them to a retaliatory discharge lawsuit.
    • Even in scenarios where termination is unrelated to the injury, employers are advised to delay termination until the employee reaches their pre-injury status to avoid potential legal complications.
  2. Refusal to Accommodate: Federal and state laws require employers to make reasonable accommodations for injured workers. Firing you for their inability or unwillingness to accommodate your condition is unlawful. When you reach Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI), meaning further treatment will not improve your condition, and you are capable of returning to work, your employer is required to make reasonable efforts to accommodate your new work restrictions.
    If your employer finds it challenging to accommodate your return-to-work restrictions or keep your position vacant for an extended period, they can opt to fill the vacant position, potentially leading to the termination of your employment. However, terminating you while you are on workers’ compensation does not absolve your employer of the responsibility to continue paying your workers’ compensation benefits. You are still entitled to these benefits until you are cleared to return to work on full duty or are placed at MMI.
  3. Discrimination: Discriminating against you due to your injury or disability is against the law. Your employer cannot fire you based on these grounds. Discrimination due to a workplace injury is a form of disability discrimination. Both the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Michigan’s Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act (PWDCRA) provide protection against discrimination based on disability.

Each of these situations demonstrates an infringement on your rights, and with a capable personal injury lawyer in Michigan, you can challenge such unjust terminations and seek rightful remedies, including reinstatement, compensatory damages to compensate you for financial loss and emotional distress, and punitive damages to punish your employer for their wrongful actions.

What To Do If You Are Terminated While on Workers’ Compensation

Should you face termination while on workers’ compensation, it is vital to act prudently. For example:

  1. Document Everything: Keep a record of all conversations, emails, and actions related to your termination.
  2. Seek Legal Counsel: Engage a reputable attorney to assess the legality of the termination and advise on the next steps.
  3. File a Claim: If advised by your attorney, file a claim against your employer for wrongful termination.
  4. Maintain Communication: Stay in touch with former colleagues who could serve as witnesses, and keep your attorney updated on any new developments.

Each of these steps is crucial in building a strong case against wrongful termination while on workers’ compensation.

How A Michigan Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Can Help

Dealing with a workplace injury while fearing for the safety of your job can be a nightmare. However, a skilled workers’ compensation lawyer in Michigan can guide you on your path to rightful benefits and justice. Here is how:

  • Advice: Your attorney can advise you on the various legal intricacies surrounding your situation, ensuring you fully grasp your rights and options.
  • Representation: Your attorney can represent you in all legal proceedings, advocating for your rights and fighting to secure the benefits you deserve.
  • Documentation: Your attorney can assist you with keeping thorough documentation related to your case, guiding you on what to document and how to organize it for future reference.
  • Negotiation: If there’s room for negotiation with your employer for a favorable resolution, your attorney can take the lead, ensuring your interests are well represented.
  • Liaison: Communicating with the workers’ compensation insurance company can be difficult while dealing with an injury. Your attorney can liaise with the insurer to ensure your claim is duly processed and you receive fair compensation.
  • Appeals: If your workers’ compensation claim is denied, your attorney can assist you in filing an appeal, guiding you through each step of the process to challenge the decision.

By working with the right workers’ compensation lawyer, Michigan workers have the best chance of securing the workers’ compensation benefits they are entitled to receive and addressing their termination concerns.

Contact Fieger Law Today

Understanding your rights and having professional legal assistance can make a significant difference in your workers’ compensation journey. You do not have to navigate this path alone; a Michigan workers’ compensation lawyer from Fieger Law is here to help. Our experienced attorneys are ready to fight for your rights and ensure you get the justice you deserve. Call us today for a free consultation.