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Can you be fired after getting hurt at work?

You're at work, just doing the normal tasks that come along with your job, when you're seriously injured. There was no horseplay involved, you followed all of the rules and safety protocols, and the accident still happened.

As such, the company is suddenly on the hook for workers' compensation payments. You're being paid, but your job isn't being done. Other workers have to pick up the slack or the company has to hire another person to do your job.

What if, to try to cut their losses, they simply fire you? Can they legally do so?

Typically, no, they cannot. This is seen as discrimination. If your employer is angry with you, perhaps blaming you even though the accident wasn't your fault, it could be looked at as a retaliation.

There are exceptions. For instance, perhaps the doctors make it clear that you have permanent injuries and you'll never be able to do your job again. Naturally, the company may need to let you go eventually to replace you. That job still has to get done for the good of the company.

Even when you can't return to your old job, though, there may be other options. You may be able to get a different job with the same company -- perhaps leaving a position where you do manual labor to take a desk job, for instance. In some cases, companies will give injured employees vocational training.

If you have been unfairly fired after an injury that wasn't your fault, don't panic. It's a stressful time, to be sure, but you do have legal options. Make sure you look into them, as you may be able to fight for compensation.

Source: FIndLaw, "Workers' Compensation: Questions and Answers," accessed Feb. 21, 2017

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