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Can a Florida business fire a worker over a workers’ comp claim?

On Behalf of | Feb 29, 2024 | Wrongful Termination |

Workers’ compensation insurance is a crucial form of protection for employees in Florida. Businesses in all industries typically have an obligation to maintain workers’ compensation insurance coverage. Every worker, from a brand-new part-time customer service representative to a seasoned full-time industrial worker could potentially qualify for workers’ compensation benefits if they get injured on the job. Workers’ compensation can also provide benefits for people diagnosed with medical conditions caused by their employment.

Despite being an important form of protection, many employees feel anxious about filing a worker’s compensation claim. They fear punishment or retaliation from their employers.

Businesses cannot lawfully retaliate against workers

Both federal employment laws and Florida statutes protect certain employment activities. Workers have protection from punishment when they report an injury on the job. They should not face employer retaliation for requesting workers’ compensation benefits, requiring a medical leave of absence or seeking workplace accommodations to help them continue working.

Companies should do their best to cooperate with workers who need support to return to their jobs instead of fighting them when they seek workers’ compensation benefits. No employer should demote, fire or otherwise punish a worker because they filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.

However, workers cannot always continue their jobs after an injury. A worker’s functional limitations related to their injury or medical condition could render them permanently incapable of performing their job. Depending on the size of the company, it may be impossible to arrange for a way for them to keep their job. Other times, a worker with a job-related injury could be one of many laid off in a downsizing or restructuring effort.

Technically, companies can fire workers for almost any reason or no stated reason at all. Florida is an at-will employment state, so the company can technically let someone go for any reason that isn’t discriminatory, retaliatory or otherwise illegal. Still, they are not permitted to fire workers specifically because they reported an incident or sought benefits.

A worker’s need for benefits should not put their employment at risk. Learning about the rules that apply during workers’ compensation claims may benefit employees who are worried about filing a claim for benefits. Seeking legal guidance is a good way to get both support and personalized feedback in the wake of a work-related injury and/or an instance of unlawful retaliation.