Can you be fired for a previous injury that healed?

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Can you be fired for a previous injury that healed?

My husband was hired as a union labor apprentice. He signed all the paperwork to start and join the union. They did an out of state job and on the way he was having a conversation with a co-worker and had mentioned he had a previous back injury. Then 4 days later, when they were back in town this employee told the owner and the owner called my husband and told him he didnt want to risk him being injured and having to pay workers comp payments and fired him. He complimented him on his work ethic and said he was a great guy but he couldn’t risk it. He is a very small company and has had someone injured on the job before which is why I’m assuming he didn’t want to keep him on. Is this legal?

Asked on October 21, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No, it is NOT legal. An employee may only be fired for an injury or disability or medical condition IF the condition, etc. in fact prevents the employee from doing the core or important part of his job, despite being given some "reasonable accommodation(s)" to facilitate him working. If there was no impact on work, or only an impact that could be mitigated by some reasonable accommodation, it was illegal disability-based discrimination to fire your husband due to a prior injury. That this was a small company and the owner didn't want to "risk" keeping your husband, or had someone previously injured on the job, is  NOT legal grounds to fire your husband so long as your husband could work. Your husband should contact the federal EEOC about filing a disability discrimination complaint; he may be entilted to rehiring or compensation.


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