Can I Lose My Job Because of a Workers’ Comp Claim in Virginia?
In Virginia, it’s illegal for an employer to fire an employee just because that employee has filed a workers’ compensation claim. With this protection, injured workers don’t have to fear losing their job after filing. Despite this, however, employers have been known to fire an employee while they’re disabled and receiving workers’ comp. Let’s explain the system overall and how to deal with retaliatory conduct.
Can My Employer Fire Me for Claiming Workers’ Compensation?
No, your employer cannot fire you solely because you’re claiming workers’ compensation.
Some workers are reluctant to file their work injury claim for fear that their employer may retaliate through job termination. However, an employee’s right to file a claim is protected by Virginia Code Section 65.2-308, which specifically prohibits the firing of an employee for exercising their right to a claim. This law also protects employees who testify in a workers’ compensation case.
Can My Employer Demand a Resignation After I’ve Filed for Workers’ Comp?
While your employee cannot terminate your job because of your workers’ comp claim, they are allowed to ask for your voluntary resignation. This often happens if you’re trying to get a settlement for your job-related injury. Your employer or their insurance company may offer a settlement deal that requires you to resign in order to receive your benefits as a settlement.
This is legal and is not considered forced resignation. Since you have the option to not take the settlement deal, accepting it means that you are voluntarily agreeing to resign.
Can My Employer Fire Me While I’m on Workers’ Compensation?
Virginia law protects you from getting laid off because of your workers’ comp claim. However, it does not stop your employer from firing you while you’re receiving workers’ compensation benefits.
The reason for this is that Virginia is an “at-will employment” state, meaning employers have the discretion to retain or let go of their employees. They can terminate employees for any reason, as long as it is legal.
In the unfortunate event that your company sees your performance as lacking, or that they cannot afford to keep employing you, they may legally terminate your job. After the termination, your workers’ comp benefits should continue as long as the award is in effect.
What Do I Do If My Employer Fired Me as Retaliation for Workers’ Comp?
If you’ve been fired from your job and you suspect it’s because of your injury claim, talk to an employment law attorney right away. Virginia Code gives you the right to bring a case in circuit court, and if successful, you may receive damages, back pay, and interest. It’s important to act quickly with your lawyer as you need to gather evidence to prove your wrongful retaliation claim.
What If I Resign? Do I Lose Workers Comp If I Quit My Job?
If you voluntarily resign while on workers’ compensation, it likely won’t affect your medical benefits but has the potential to reduce your wage-loss benefits.
Workers’ comp medical benefits are in effect for a lifetime, meaning you’ll get coverage for any future medical costs directly related to the job injury at issue. Wage-loss benefits, on the other hand, are a little more complicated.
If your doctor has declared that you cannot do any work at all, you must not take on any other job. Doing so would be a violation of your work restrictions and could be grounds for the insurance company to end your wage-loss payments.
If your doctor has released you for light-duty work, you may be able to do some tasks but you’ll still have restrictions to obey. It is possible to switch jobs while you’re on light-duty status. However, you won’t receive additional wage-loss payments if your new employer pays less than your old job. At best, your existing wage-loss benefits will continue at their current rate.
Some workers also wonder if they are still eligible for a settlement if they quit their job. The answer is yes, you’ll still have the right to pursue a settlement even if you’ve resigned or changed your employer.
Note that the workers’ compensation rules in Virginia are full of exceptions, and insurance carriers are keen on finding loopholes to terminate your benefits. Before making any major decisions about your job, consult with a workers’ comp attorney for legal advice specific to your case.
Talk to a Trusted Workers’ Comp Lawyer in Virginia
Workers in Virginia rely on Attorney Jaleh K. Slominski to guide them through the workers’ compensation process and help them succeed in their claims. Ms. Slominski’s legal service has resulted in maximum compensation for numerous clients.
Talk to Attorney Slominski about your workers’ comp concern. Schedule your consultation by calling (434) 384-9400 (in Lynchburg) or (540) 554-3762 (in Roanoke).