What canI do ifI lost my job due to an on-the-job injury?

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What canI do ifI lost my job due to an on-the-job injury?

I hurt my lower back at work. It been an on-going situation for almost 2 years. My workers comp doctor said I was going to live with this and suffer spasms on a daily basis. I’m 24 years-old have never had a child. This has been my only job and now I can’t do a lot of activities I used to. They fired me after my last claim closed (they opened and closed my case several times). Can I sue for medical benefits and a monetary compensation?

Asked on November 10, 2010 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The issue is two fold: (1) *could* you possibly have done the job with some reasonable accomodation--e.g. a change in duties; and (2) if so, did you ask for an accomodation? Under the law, a company cannot discriminate against someone because they are disabled and must make "reasonable" accomodations. That, however, still requires either that the person could do the original job with some not-too-costly assistance or technology (e.g. getting voice activated software, for someone with vision problems) or some change in duties (e.g. if someone can't lift heavy objects but can still run machinery, could they operate a forklift instead of unloading crates by hand?). There has to be some job there, that with the change or assistance, the person can do. If there isn't--if between the person's disability and his or her qualifications, there is no open position at the employer the person can do, the employer doesn't need to invent a position or pay him or her for not actually working. Also, as noted, the employer isn't required to guess at your need for an accomodation--you have to ask.

That said, if you were fired in retlaitation for  your claims, that is improper and may give rise to a cause of action. So if you feel you were either fired in retaliation or that you were denied some accomodation that would let you work, you should speak with an employment attorney who can evaluate your situation in greater detail.


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