You work hard to be a good employer, and you take your obligations under the law very seriously. You know that it’s illegal to retaliate against an employee for filing a worker’s compensation claim, and you’d never dream of doing something like that.
But does an open workers’ comp claim make an employee “bulletproof,” or otherwise immune from discipline at work? Not hardly.
If you have justification for termination, workers’ comp isn’t a barrier
Good and bad employees alike can end up with workplace injuries, but bad employees sometimes think that an open claim makes them impossible to fire. They use the opportunity to slack off, disrupt the workflow of others and otherwise cause problems.
You can fire an employee with an open workers’ comp claim as long as you have sufficient justification and follow the proper procedures (as outlined in your company handbook or policies). Some examples that can lead to justifiable termination include:
- Unexcused absenteeism or repeatedly showing up late
- Insubordination when interacting with their superiors
- Harassment of their co-workers or clients
- Failing a random drug or alcohol test
- Stealing, forging a time sheet or otherwise breaking the rules
Whatever your reason, it’s important to make sure that you fully document your reasoning and any evidence you may have of the employee’s infractions. Keep track of any verbal or written warnings that were issued prior to the “final straw,” as well.
Do you have complex questions about your employment practices?
Employment issues can be incredibly difficult for employers to sort out on their own. Working with an experienced business law attorney when you have serious concerns can keep you from making mistakes that will lead to litigation.