Technically, no. When employers take adverse actions against an employee when that employee exercises rights, this is known as retaliation. If you do file a workers' compensation claim and you are fired shortly thereafter, you may have a retaliation case on your hands. However, employers are generally too savvy these days to state outright that you were fired because you filed a claim. Employers can state any number of "real" reasons for your dismissal, even if retaliation was the real motive. Retaliation claims can be very difficult to prove.
This isn't to say that you shouldn't try to file a retaliation lawsuit if you believe you have been fired for filing a workers' compensation claim, nor does it mean you shouldn't file a workers' compensation claim in the first place to protect yourself from the possibility of retaliation. Workplace injuries can be severe and costly. They can result in long-term medical treatments and time away from work. Without workers' compensation, an injured worker can quickly face mounting an unmanageable debt, or even bankruptcy.
In other words, an injured worker's choices don't always fall into neat categories, like:
- File a claim and lose your job.
- Don't file a claim and don't lose your job.
If you decide not to file a claim, the financial fallout from a workplace injury can still be overwhelming. And if you don't get the treatment you need to recover because you can't afford it on your own, you may be compromising your future ability to work — for anyone.
The decision to file a workers' compensation claim, in the end, is a personal one. A lawyer can give you the proper perspective about the process and what you stand to gain by filing.