Employers in West Virginia and throughout the country must take great care when terminating someone who has filed a workers’ compensation claim. Recently, a former Dish Network employee alleged that he was unlawfully fired because he sought benefits related to an on-the-job injury.
Under the West Virginia Workers’ Compensation Code, terminating someone while they are off work due to a compensable work injury is prohibited, unless the worker has committed a dischargeable offense wholly unrelated to the injury. Even if you have a valid reason for firing an employee, extra care must be taken if they have sought, or are receiving, payments in connection with a work injury or illness. An experienced attorney can assist you with relevant issues such as:
- Absences — Using absences as a justification for firing a workers’ compensation claimant is not allowed under West Virginia law. This is true even if a company policy limits a worker to a certain number of absences and most of the missed days occurred before the injury.
- Documentation — If you are seeking to release an employee based on the fact they committed some act prior to the time when they stopped working, it can be challenging to prove your case. It is best to assemble any relevant materials and review them before taking action.
- Reinstatement — Likewise, a business cannot dismiss a workers’ compensation claimant by refusing to reinstate them after they are able to return to work. They must be returned to their old position if they can still perform the necessary duties. If they cannot, the employee is entitled to a comparable position, if available, or priority hiring when a suitable job opens up.
If you require assistance with the potential release of an injured worker or any other issue, Pullin, Fowler, Flanagan, Brown & Poe provides comprehensive workers’ compensation defense counsel in West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky. To schedule a consultation, call 304-344-0100 or contact us online.