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Will You Lose Your Job by Filing for Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

Employees who are injured or become ill at work may be entitled to workers’ compensation under the laws of Pennsylvania.  Most employers in Pennsylvania are required to maintain workers’ compensation insurance coverage.  If an employer has one or more employees, workers’ compensation coverage is generally mandatory, regardless of whether the employees are part- or full-time workers.

The purpose of workers’ compensation benefits is to help employees who cannot earn a living due to an injury or an illness suffered on the job.  To recover these benefits, an injured employee must have been hurt in the course of his or her job duties, while on company property, or participating in a work-related event or trip.

It is a common concern among employees that they will lose their job if they file for workers’ compensation benefits.  Often, they would rather not upset their employer or cause a disturbance in their company.  But the fact is that after suffering an injury, these employees cannot perform their duties as effectively, and in many cases they may suffer disciplinary action as a result of this anyway.

The law is clear that your employer cannot fire you because you filed a claim for workers’ compensation.  Pennsylvania does not have an explicit law regarding workers’ compensation retaliation, but the state recognizes a common law action for retaliatory discharge.  As an employee, you cannot be demoted or suffer a pay cut, or have any other retaliatory action taken against you simple because you made the decision to exercise your legal rights.

Most Workers Are Covered by the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act

Many workers are at-will employees. That being said, they still have the same rights as those who work under contract.  An at-will employee is one who is not contractually bound to the employer.  Even if you do not have an employment contract, and your employer can terminate your employment at any time without cause, the same rules apply regarding employer retaliation.  The law protects employees from retaliation for filing workers’ compensation claims.  Additionally, both full-time and part-time workers are covered by the Worker’s Compensation Act.  Coverage for benefits begins for employees on the first day of employment.

If You Have Already Been Fired for Filing for Workers’ Compensation, You Have Rights

If your employer has fired you after you filed for workers’ compensation benefits, you may have a common law claim for wrongful termination or retaliation.  This would be a different claim than your workers’ compensation claim.  While workers’ compensation provides benefits that cover medical bills and some of your lost income while you cannot perform the duties of your job, a retaliation claim could cover your back pay and provide more financial compensation.  In some cases, you can also seek to be reinstated in your former position.

At Needle Law, our workers’ compensation attorneys have decades of experience helping injured workers in Pennsylvania.  We can help you navigate the claims process and any potential issues of employer retaliation.  We provide a free consultation and can be reached by calling 570-344-1266 or contacting us online.

 

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