Getting hurt while on the job can be a troubling event, and not just because of the pain you experience from your injury. Suddenly, you have to deal with medical bills for your treatment and recovery. The state workers’ compensation system may cover you, but you may fear retaliation from your employer if you try to file a claim.
It is true that Indiana is an at-will state, meaning employers can fire their workers for just about any reason. However, your employer cannot violate your civil rights by firing you.
Workers’ comp claims and wrongful termination
The state workers’ compensation system exists to help workers who have experienced injuries or illnesses resulting from a place of employment. The idea is to make sure injured employees are not financially burdened by medical expenses. Applying for workers’ compensation is a legitimate use of this system.
As the Workers’ Compensation Board of Indiana explains, an employer cannot fire a worker for filing a workers’ compensation claim. Even if your employer disagrees with your claim, he or she cannot terminate your job simply because you seek to cover your medical bills through workers’ comp.
Termination for other reasons
Keep in mind that your employer may still have the legal right to end your employment on other grounds. If your injury keeps you away from work for longer than your work attendance policy allows, your employer may decide to replace you with a healthy worker.
If your employer is understanding of your plight, you might work out an arrangement to come back to work after meeting a set schedule. If you feel your job is at risk, however, you might explore options like applying for coverage under the Family and Medical Leave Act. An employment contract or an employee handbook may also spell out under which circumstances your employer can fire an injured worker.