Can an employer terminate you after a work injury?

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Can an employer terminate you after a work injury?

I was at work and my hand got caught in between rollers and sustained a fracture and nerve damage. I was taken to their clinic and then taken to hand specialist, Now they are rumors from my co-workers that they are planing to terminated me and well I want to know do I need to obtain a lawyer I do not want to loose my job or give them any reason to terminate.

Asked on February 9, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Whether they can terminate you comes down to four things:
First, whether you have missed work without being able to cover your absences with paid time off (e.g. sick or vacation days you earned) or by using FMLA leave (assuming your employer is covered by FMLA and you are eligible for it: in brief, they have to have at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius, you must have worked there at least a year, and you must have worked at least 1,250 hours in the last 12 months). If you missed work without using PTO or FMLA leave, you may be fired for absenteeism, even if hurt at work.
Second, if the accident occured because you violated safety rules or were careless: if so, they could terminate you for that infraction.
Third, if they otherwise had unrelated grounds to terminate you (e.g provable performance issues; insubordination; etc.) they could terminate you for those reasons.
Fourth, whether you can still do your job or not--including with some reasonable accommodation (or some change in procedure or provision of assistive device or technology, which is not too expensive or disruptive or burdensome for the employer). If you can still do your job (including as stated, with reasonable accommodations), you can't be terminated for having an injury or medical condition. However, if you simply cannot due your job anymore, they are not required to retain you or to find a different job for you.
If the first through third things do not apply and you can still do the job, then if they do terminate you, this may be illegal disability (e.g. lasting injury) based discrimination, and you should contact the federal EEOC or your state's equal/civil rights agency.


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