Florida has adopted a statute that makes it illegal for your employer to fire you solely because you have applied for or are receiving workers’ compensation benefits after you suffered an on-the-job injury.
Because Florida is an at-will employment state, however, that statute does not prevent your employer from firing you for other reasons or even for no reason at all as long as there is no connection between your worker’s compensation claim and the termination of your employment.
If you believe that your employer has fired you because you are pursuing workers’ compensation benefits, contact our Florida workers’ compensation lawyers for an assessment of your circumstances. The lawyers at our firm fight to protect the rights of injured workers against unscrupulous employers who use false pretexts to fire injured workers.
How is Termination of At-Will Employment Different Than Employer Retaliation?
Under Florida’s at-will employment doctrine, your employer can fire you at any time as long you are not being fired for a discriminatory reason or some other improper or retaliatory purpose. Termination, because you filed a worker’s compensation claim, is employer retaliation that is barred by Florida law.
Employers may justify employee terminations for reasons that might include:
- A record of poor performance reviews with no indication of improvements in job performance
- Restructurings that eliminate an employee’s position or that assign his or her duties to other employees
- Financial setbacks that require reductions in staffing
- Replacement of a live employee with technology or robotic systems
If you are receiving workers’ compensation benefits and suspect that you were fired for reasons that are at odds with the circumstances of your employment or your benefits claim, call our experienced attorneys immediately for an analysis of your suspicions.
Any delay on your part can impair your right and ability to pursue a claim for maximum benefits under your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance plan and any damages you may be able to recover for wrongful termination.
Will You Still Receive Your Workers’ Compensation Benefits After You Have been Fired?
Suppose you qualify for workers’ compensation benefits due to a work-related injury or illness. In that case, those benefits will continue after you are fired unless your employer can prove that you were fired for gross misconduct. Gross misconduct is difficult to prove as it requires the employer to establish a series of events that are engrossed in conflict with the interests of the employer. Termination for cause is not a sufficient defense to deny you lost wage benefits through worker’s compensation.
If you are terminated for cause and not gross misconduct, in addition to being able to continue treatment with your authorized medical providers for your work injuries, you will also receive loss wage benefits until your approved workers’ compensation physician has determined that you have reached your maximum medical improvement for the type of injury you sustained.
Proving Wrongful Termination in Florida
To show wrongful termination, a Florida employee must first show by a preponderance of the evidence that he or she was fired while engaged in an activity that is protected by law, for example, filing a claim for worker’s compensation benefits. The employee must then demonstrate that the firing was causally related to the protected activity.
In response, an employer might argue that the employee was fired for a cause unrelated to the workers’ compensation claim, for example, on account of misconduct, fraud, disclosure of confidential information, or some other violation of terms of employment. The employer and employee will each have an opportunity to present their evidence to the judge or jury that evaluates the facts of the case.
The terminated employee will always have a better chance of success when he or she retains a Florida workers’ compensation lawyer who has the expertise to use available evidence to the employee’s best benefit.
Why You Should Retain a Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Florida employers and their workers’ comp insurance companies have the resources and experience to skew evidence in ways that make an employee termination appear to be reasonable.
Employees who have been fired while they are pursuing or receiving workers’ compensation benefits can best level the playing field when they retain an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who advocates for the employee’s rights and best interests.
Call Berlin Law Firm if You Were Fired While Receiving Workers’ Comp Benefits
The Florida workers’ compensation lawyers at Berlin Law Firm help wrongfully terminated employees get the workers’ compensation benefits they deserve and the damages they are entitled to recover when their employers fire them for pursuing a benefits claim. We have offices in Sarasota and Tampa and offer complimentary consultations to injured Florida workers whose rights are being infringed by their employers.
Please call us for an analysis of your case and an assessment of your workers’ compensation claim. You will pay nothing if you retain us and we accept your case, and we will earn our fees when we recover benefits and damages on your behalf.