Will I be fired for claiming workers’ comp?

If you’re hurt at work, you should be filing a workers’ compensation claim so you can get the money you are due. Sometimes, however, people don’t want to file because they think they will be fired. So, will you be fired for claiming workers’ comp?

Short Answer

Firing you for claiming workers’ compensation is illegal in Virginia.

Long Answer

If you’re injured already, especially if you’re not able to do your regular job, it may be scary to think about filing for workers’ compensation benefits. You may already be worried that your boss and his boss are mad at you for being injured. You’re probably concerned about how you’ll pay for your medical treatment, and if you’ll be able to pay your rent or mortgage and buy groceries for your family.

Workers’ comp benefits don’t arrive in your bank account the day after you get injured, but by filing a workers’ compensation claim you can have your medical bills covered and be given a percentage of your salary while you’re recovering, or permanently if you are permanently injured. (For more details, see earlier blogs on the types of workers’ comp benefits that exist in Virginia.)

Best of all, Virginia has a law that explicitly says that employers can’t fire employees for filing for workers’ compensation, and if they do, the employee can take them to court. It’s law § 65.2-308. Discharge of employee for exercising rights prohibited; civil action; relief.

The first part of the law says that your job can’t fire you for filing for workers’ comp, for being about to file for workers’ comp, for testifying in a workers’ comp hearing, or for being about to testify in a workers’ comp hearing. The text of the law reads

A. No employer or person shall discharge an employee solely because the employee intends to file or has filed a claim under this title or has testified or is about to testify in any proceeding under this title. The discharge of a person who has filed a fraudulent claim is not a violation of this section.

(The second sentence says that if you lie and file a false workers’ comp claim, they are allowed to fire you.)

The second part of the law says that if you are fired for doing any of the actions in part A (filing, being about to file, testifying, or being about to testify) then you are allowed to bring a court case against your former employer. If you win the case the court is allowed to make the employer give you money, including money for lawyers; hire you again; and give you back pay plus interest.  The text of the law reads:

B. The employee may bring an action in a circuit court having jurisdiction over the employer or person who allegedly discharged the employee in violation of this section. The court shall have jurisdiction, for cause shown, to restrain violations and order appropriate relief, including actual damages and attorney’s fees to successful claimants and the rehiring or reinstatement of the employee, with back pay plus interest at the judgment rate as provided in § 6.2-302.

HammondTownsend takes care of filing your workers’ compensation claim for you and working with you throughout the process. Call today for a free consultation at 888-580-9048.

HammondTownsend is a workers’ compensation law firm with offices located in Manassas, Richmond, Roanoke, Fishersville and Charlottesville.

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