Can an employer fire you after you file a worker’s comp claim?

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Can an employer fire you after you file a worker’s comp claim?

My sister works in a private pre-school. Over a year ago, the state regulators discovered a hole in the playground and told them to fix it. They did not fix it and my sister permanently injured her ankle. She was out on worker’s comp for a full year. She returned to work, where the environment was very hostile. Then 6 months later, they told her that they had to “lay her off because of the budget.” However, she is the only person laid off despite having 7 years seniority. In fact, they even have an opening for a job similar to hers. They told her that she needs to re-apply for her job back.

Asked on June 16, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Oregon

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The answer is they can't fire you *because* of a worker's comp claim, but they can fire a person for an unrelated reason--budget, poor performance, violation of work rules, etc. The key issue is whether or not the stated or given reason is the true reason for the termination, or whether it's just a pretext or wayy to try to get around the ban on retaliating for filing a worker's comp claim. From what you write, there is at least some reason to suspect it's a pretext; therefore, your sister should consult with an employment law attorney, who can evaluate all the facts of her circumstances (the specific facts are key in cases like this), advise her as to her rights and recourse, if any, and then, if appropriate, take action on her behalf. She should not wait--there are short statutes of limitation (or time to sue) on employment matters in many cases.


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