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Can You Get Laid Off If You Are off Work and on Workers’ Compensation?

Can You Get Laid Off If You’re on Workers’ Compensation Leave

Imagine you are at home on workers’ compensation benefits, recovering from an injury or illness you sustained while on the job. Would it be legal for an employer to provide you with a layoff notice as part of a workforce reduction during the time when you are on leave? In other words, are you guaranteed a job when you come back from your workers’ compensation benefits?

The answer depends largely on why your employer is moving ahead with layoffs.

Context matters in workers’ comp layoff cases

If you were laid off primarily because you were on leave as part of workers’ compensation benefits, you may be able to bring a lawsuit against the company for illegal retaliation. However, if you would have been laid off even if you were still at work, then you may not be protected from the layoff because of your temporary disability leave.

Every state has laws that protect workers who ask for or receive workers’ compensation benefits from retaliation by employers. This means you cannot be laid off, fired, demoted, harassed or retaliated against in any way because you received workers’ comp benefits, as you were simply exercising rights guaranteed to you.

Still, in most states, employers do not need to give people on temporary disability leave any form of special treatment. In Pennsylvania, you can still be fired or laid off by your employer while receiving workers’ compensation or while out on leave so long as the reason is not in retaliation for you taking that leave. The company might, for example, need to make some workforce reductions to remain profitable or could be closing a branch. You would need to have some compelling evidence that the reason for an employment status change was a pretext and was actually due to your disability or workers’ comp status.

If you believe there is any chance the reason for your layoff was retaliatory in nature, speak with an attorney immediately so that you can protect your rights. For further guidance, contact a skilled Pennsylvania workers’ compensation lawyer with Rudberg Law Offices, LLC. Call us at 412-488-6000 or contact us online today.