Q & A – Can I fire an injured worker?

Q: Can I fire an injured worker?

A: It depends.  In many states, injured worker can bring wrongful discharge actions based upon the public policy exception to the employment at-will status created by the courts that prohibits an employer from firing an injured worker as a result of his or her workers' compensation claim.  This public policy exception does not protect the injured worker from being terminated for causes unrelated to the workers' compensation.  There also may be additional legal issues, such as the Family Medical Leave Act or the Americans with Disabilities Act, for an employer to consider prior to termination.  If an employer has a situation in which termination is being considered, the employer should seek legal analysis before the termination to discuss the possible ramification of a termination.