Does Your Employer Have to Give You Your Job Back?
You may have suffered an injury on the job but find yourself worried about filing a workers’ compensation claim. What happens if you are out from work for months? Your employer may need to hire someone to fill in while you are gone. Will you be able to go back to your old job when you are ready to return to work? What if your employer disputes your claim, but you are granted benefits by the Workers’ Compensation Board? Can you be fired for filing a valid workers’ compensation claim?
The good news—under New Jersey law, you cannot be terminated solely in retaliation for collecting workers’ compensation benefits. That being said, it can be extremely difficult to prove that you’ve been fired for one reason or another. One of the reasons behind that—New Jersey is what is known as an “at-will” employment state. That means that either an employer or an employee may end the relationship at any time and for any reason, provided it is not contrary to the terms of an employment contract or to law or public policy. An employer can argue that a downturn in the economy or other reasons led to the layoff.
Apart from that limitation, there is nothing in the New Jersey workers’ compensation laws that makes it mandatory that an employer hold a job for an employee who has filed a valid workers’ compensation claim. There are, nonetheless, other ways that you may be able to keep your job:
- If you anticipate being off work for less than 13 weeks, you can submit a request for unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This federal law allows you to take time off for certain reasons, with the guarantee that your job will still be there when you return.
- You may have a provision in a union contract or collective bargaining agreement that protects your job.
Contact Gregg A. Wisotsky, Esq., Partner, Javerbaum Wurgaft Hicks Kahn Wikstrom & Sinins, PC.
We offer a free phone consultation to every prospective client. For a complimentary evaluation of your case, contact our office online or call us at 973-241-7468. We will come to your home or the hospital to meet with you, if necessary. All major credit cards are accepted.