South Carolina is a right to work state, meaning an employee can be discharged at any time without cause. This can make an injured employee hesitant to file a workers’ compensation claim for fear of possible repercussions including job demotion or even termination. Fortunately, the legal professionals at Dan Pruitt Law Firm are here to make sure your rights are protected.
Though South Carolina is a right to work state, laws are in place to protect an injured worker from retaliatory termination. While no reason has to be given to terminate, if the employee has been injured on the job and reported the accident or filed the workers’ compensation claim themselves or with legal assistance, they cannot be fired. Frequently an employer will try to circumvent the law through untruths and deception. This is when it is imperative you consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to ensure you are not wrongfully terminated.
In place are several federal laws which may safeguard you in case of a potential termination. They include certain caveats under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, potential coverage under the Americans with Disabilities Act and protection if your employer has or is in the process of firing you because of a workers’ compensation claim.
Your employer may continue his quest to terminate you using reasons which are generally considered as standard such as insubordination, being late to work, unexcused absences or unsatisfactory job performance. At this point, your attorney will request copies of any and all documentation available in order to back up these claims. Access to human resources to check for things such as written warnings and timesheet records along with interviews with other employees may be some of the information your legal team will be gathering. Often at this point, the employer will not go forward with the termination or if you have already been let go, you will be rehired. Depending on how long you were away from the job, he may be liable for back wages and reimbursement for health care costs and other benefits.
Finally your employer got the message and has ended his quest to get rid of you. Does this mean he has to keep you on the payroll no matter how severe your injuries or for the duration of your recuperation period? While your employer is required to keep you on as an employee, your wages however, will be paid through his workers’ compensation insurance policy. Depending on the extent of your injuries there may come a time when you reach your maximum medical improvement (MMI). This is when your medical providers all agree there is no additional medical treatment which can lessen the level of impairment. This is not to be confused with ongoing medical care such as physical therapy or respiratory treatments which may lessen the period of disability. Continuing medical care may also be required in order for the worker to maintain their current level of physical health after their injury.
On the day MMI is determined, an employee is no longer eligible for workers’ compensation benefits and legally the employer must try to make reasonable accommodations in order to keep the worker gainfully employed. If this isn’t possible then it may be necessary for the employee to file for permanent or partial disability compensation. Disability, both temporary and permanent, will be discussed in future posts.
If you believe you are being unfairly targeted by your employer due to an on the job injury and worry about being fired, please contact the Dan Pruitt Law Firm today at 864-232-4273 for a complementary consultation.