Unfortunately, we see a lot of cases in which seriously injured workers (especially middle aged workers and older) end up being fired from their jobs. The terminations usually fall under one of four categories.
The first general category is that at some jobs if a worker reports an injury they will be terminated almost immediately.
The second firing category is that the employer claims that the injured worker has violated some work rule, and this violation is the reason for the termination. A frequent termination reason cited is that the worker has missed work for medical treatment, and the worker has allegedly failed to comply with employer’s rules on notifications for missed work. However, injured workers end up getting fired for a wide variety of alleged rule violations including safety violations, time clock violations, damaging company property, falsifying company records, insubordination, poor performance, using company property for personal business, inability to return to full duty work within a required time period, going over the limited number of absences permitted by the employer, and inability to perform their job because of the injury.
On June 19, 2013 I wrote a blog article explaining that in most cases if you are fired from your job, and are receiving workers’ compensation benefits, the work comp benefits cannot be stopped because of your termination. See here for the complete article and a detailed explanation of the Iowa law in this area.
The third termination category that a lot of fired workers fall under involves the employer and the insurance carrier getting a new medical opinion. Initially for a period of time after a worker is injured the insurance carrier will provide medical care and either the insurance carrier will pay work comp benefits, or the employer will provide light duty work. However, the insurance carrier eventually sends the injured worker to a new doctor. The new doctor gives an opinion along the lines of that while the worker was hurt on the job, the work injury was only a temporary aggravation of a pre-existing problem, and the worker’s condition has now returned to the baseline of where it was prior to the work injury. Once the insurance company obtains the new medical opinion, the employer notifies the worker that since the work injury is no longer considered a workers’ compensation matter, light duty work is no longer available, and the worker is being let go because his injury prevents him from being able to do his job.
The fourth category is “constructive termination” which is when the employer takes action that gets the injured worker to quit. The employer might motivate an injured worker to quit by a wide variety of tactics including moving the worker to a harder job, changing the worker’s shift, lowering the worker’s pay, changing the worker’s fringe benefits, constantly criticizing the employee, or otherwise making the work environment intolerable.
While the actual way you are fired or forced out can vary, the end results of not having a job, and having your workers’ compensation benefits in danger are the same.
If you end up fired from your job after a work injury you definitely need the help of an experienced Iowa work comp lawyer. Just because the employer or insurance carrier have said that you are not entitled to any further workers’ compensation benefits that does not mean they are correct. The entire Iowa workers’ compensation system is set up to allow workers to challenge such denials of workers’ comp benefits and obtain the money and medical care they deserve for their injuries.
Sometimes a lawyer can convince the defendants to restart workers’ compensation benefits fairly quickly. However, if the employer has decided to fire you after a work injury, this frequently means that the defendants have already made the decision to fight. In these situations it will frequently be necessary to file a workers’ compensation lawsuit and litigate the case. You can look here to see an explanation of 17 of the main benefits that our lawyers can provide to help you with your Iowa work injury case.