When you suffer an injury on the job, your mind can race with countless pressing questions.
Among the biggest questions is, Can you get fired after an injury at work in North Carolina?
Fortunately, employees receiving workers’ compensation benefits have several protections against getting fired after a work injury.
However, these protections aren’t absolute.
To make the most of your workers’ compensation rights and protect yourself after suffering a work injury, you should speak to an attorney immediately.
State Protections for Workers’ Compensation Claimants
There are multiple benefits and protections that employers have to give to employees with valid workers’ compensation claims.
An Employee’s Rights Under Workers’ Compensation
After you report a work injury, your employer has to provide you with multiple benefits under North Carolina’s Workers’ Compensation Act, including:
- Compensation for medical treatment and supplies,
- Compensation for injury-related lost wages, and
- Suitable employment within your work restrictions.
Although providing these benefits is their legal obligation, some employers try to save time and money by shirking these responsibilities.
Efforts to avoid providing benefits to legitimate workers’ compensation claimants are illegal.
An Employee’s Rights Under the Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act
Employers who fire or punish employees for making workers’ compensation claims violate North Carolina’s Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act (REDA).
If you’re a victim of a REDA violation, you can sue your employer or file a complaint with the Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Bureau.
In a successful lawsuit or complaint, you can win:
- Job reinstatement,
- An injunction to stop the REDA violation,
- Reinstatement of your employment benefits,
- Compensation for lost wages and benefits, and
- Compensation for economic losses caused by your employer’s REDA violation(s).
The law triples your damages if your employer’s violation of REDA is willful.
But your employer is not liable for damages if they can prove that they had fired you regardless of your workers’ compensation claim. You have 180 days to file a REDA complaint.
Federal Protections for Workers’ Compensation Claimants
If you’re fired after an injury at work in North Carolina, you might also have a valid complaint under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Under the ADA, it’s illegal for an employer to fire or discriminate against a qualified employee for having a disability.
Employers must reasonably accommodate qualified and disabled employees. The government might require employers to reinstate employees’ jobs and pay money damages.
If your workplace injury qualifies as a disability and is the reason for workplace discrimination, you can file an ADA complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Navigating workers’ compensation, REDA, and the ADA is tricky. It’s daunting to keep up with these systems when recovering from a work injury and trying to make ends meet.
This is why speaking to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who can expertly navigate these systems for you is crucial.
Employees in North Carolina are at-will, meaning they can be fired at any time and are protected from discrimination. The filing of a workers’ compensation claim, however, is not a valid reason for termination. Workers’ compensation employees are responsible for keeping their employers informed.
We Can Help Keep You Safe and Properly Compensated
At Mehta & McConnell, we have the experience to resolve your workplace disputes successfully.
Our Charlotte, North Carolina attorneys have over 30 years combined experience, including working for the other side.
We now work exclusively with injured personal injury plaintiffs and injured workers.
Our experience working on both sides of the table gives us the tactical edge to fight workers’ compensation opponents.
If you need help, reach out to us online or call us at 980-217-8494. We offer free consultations.