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Can I Get Fired for Getting Hurt at Work?

May 26, 2022

If you’ve been injured on the job, you are not alone. Each year, millions of people in Illinois and across the United States suffer job-related injuries. 

Being injured on the job is a stressful experience for any worker. In addition to missing work while you recover, it can be challenging to navigate the complexities of the workers’ comp process. Injured workers are often worried about how their employers will react to a workers’ compensation claim, and wonder if they will ultimately lose their jobs because they were hurt at work.

The Chicago workplace injury lawyers at Coplan + Crane understand the hardships faced by workers who are hurt on the job. We are committed to protecting the rights and best interests of our clients and helping them move forward after a serious injury.

Understanding Your Legal Rights After a Workplace Injury in Illinois

Whether your employer can fire you after you suffer a workplace injury depends on several different factors. As a result, if you have concerns about losing your job, or if you have already lost a job, you should speak with a lawyer about your legal rights. Recognizing that each individual employee’s situation is unique, here are some of the general rules that apply when you get injured at work: 

1. Your Employer May Be Able to Fire You if You are Unable to Do Your Job

Most workers in Illinois are employed “at will,” and this means that their employers can terminate their employment for any lawful reason or no reason at all. Lawful reasons include being unable to perform your job duties. For example, if you are a truck driver and your injuries prevent you from driving, your employer may have a legitimate reason to terminate your employment. 

2. Your Employer May Not Be Able to Fire You if You Have a Disability 

Most employers in Illinois are subject to the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Illinois Environmental Barriers Act. Under these laws, employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees who have disabilities. This includes disabilities caused by workplace injuries. 

If you can still perform your job duties but require reasonable accommodations to do so, your employer cannot terminate your employment based on your disability—unless providing a reasonable accommodation would impose an “undue hardship” on your employer. As the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) explains, “It is a violation of the ADA to fail to provide reasonable accommodation to the known physical or mental limitations of a qualified individual with a disability, unless to do so would impose an undue hardship on the operation of your business.”

3. Your Employer Cannot Fire You for Requesting a Reasonable Accommodation 

If you have a qualifying disability under the ADA, you have the right to request a reasonable accommodation. Your employer cannot fire you for exercising this right. If your employer fires you in violation of the ADA or the Illinois Environmental Barriers Act, you may be entitled to reinstatement, back pay, or other forms of compensation. 

4. Your Employer Cannot Fire You for Seeking Workers’ Compensation 

Your employer also cannot fire you for exercising your right to seek workers’ compensation benefits. Most employees who suffer job-related injuries are entitled to these benefits under Illinois law. Firing employees because they file for workers’ compensation is considered a form of employment retaliation, and it is prohibited under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act

5. If You Have an Employment Contract, Your Contract May Determine Your Rights

If you are not an “at-will” employee but instead have an employment contract, you will need to have a lawyer review your contract to determine your legal rights. If your contract entitles you to retain your job for a specified period of time or entitles you to compensation even if you are unable to work due to an injury, your employer may be prohibited from terminating your employment.   

Regardless of Whether You Get Fired for Getting Hurt, You May Be Entitled to Benefits and/or Other Compensation 

Regardless of whether you lose your job after suffering a work injury, you may be entitled to benefits and/or other forms of financial compensation. For example, our lawyers may be able to help you file one or more of the following claims:

  • Workers’ Compensation – Workers’ compensation benefits are available to eligible employees on a “no-fault” basis. These benefits can cover your medical bills and up to two-thirds of your lost wages. 
  • Personal Injury – If you were injured in an accident that was someone else’s fault, you may have grounds to file a personal injury claim and recover full compensation. 
  • Social Security Disability – Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) and supplemental security income (SSI) benefits are available to qualifying workers who have disabling injuries. 
  • Unemployment – If your employer lawfully terminates your employment as a result of your injury, you may qualify for unemployment benefits while you look for a new job.

Talk to a Chicago Workplace Accident Lawyer for Free

If you’ve been hurt on the job, you need a law firm you can trust to protect your rights and best interests. At Coplan + Crane, our experienced attorneys take a modern approach to personal injury law. We leverage expertise, technology, and the collaborative effort of our entire team to achieve favorable outcomes for our clients. 

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To speak with a Chicago workplace accident lawyer today, contact us online or at (708) 358-8080. Our firm serves clients in Chicago, Oak Park, and Rockford, Illinois.