Can You Lose Your Job After a Construction Accident?
The construction industry is one of the most dangerous in the nation, causing a significant percentage of worker injuries and deaths.
It is only natural for construction workers to be concerned about whether their job will still be there when they recover and are ready to get back to work. This is a complex issue that depends on many factors, such as the job and the worker’s injuries.
If you were injured in a construction accident, you may be eligible to pursue compensation. The experienced New Jersey construction accident lawyers at Lynch Law Firm, PC offer a free consultation so victims can learn more about the options that may be available to you.
Retaliation for Filing a Workers’ Comp Claim
New Jersey is an at-will employment state, which essentially means employers can fire employees whenever they want.
However, employers are prohibited from firing employees in retaliation for engaging in protected activities, like filing a workers’ comp claim.
This does not mean employees are protected from being fired simply because they filed workers’ compensation claims. The employee would need to prove the employer fired him or her simply because the workers’ comp claim was filed. If the employer had a legitimate reason to fire you before you filed a claim, the employer could still fire you for that reason after you file a claim.
One important factor in a retaliation claim is the timing of the firing. If it happened soon after the filing of the workers’ compensation claim, it may be evidence of retaliation.
Federal Laws Protecting Employees
There are federal laws that protect injured employees. For example, the Family and Medical Leave Act allows eligible employees to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave to deal with medical issues. During this recovery time, your employer cannot terminate you unless you use more than the 12 weeks of leave from work. After 12 weeks, your employer is required to return you to your former position or a substantially similar one.
The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits an employer from firing you due to disability. If you are protected by the ADA, your employer must offer to make reasonable accommodations that will not cause them undue hardship. Reasonable accommodations may include many things that make your job more manageable, such as:
- Making the workplace wheelchair accessible
- Granting you additional unpaid leave
- Providing special tools to an injured worker
- Restructuring your job duties or schedule
- Allowing you to take additional breaks
- Modifying desks or other workplace surfaces
Your employer must attempt to make several accommodations before determining if you can complete the essential functions of your job.
Do Employers Have to Keep Your Job Open?
Employers in New Jersey are not required to keep your job open for the length of your recovery from a work injury unless it is practical and reasonable. If your former position is important and needs to be filled, your employer can hire someone else.
Additionally, your employer does not necessarily have to reinstate you to your previous job. Once your doctor has determined you have reached maximum medical improvement, you and your employer must determine whether you are able to return to your job with or without reasonable accommodations. If you are not able to perform the essential duties of your job, your employer does not have to let you return to your job. Your employer has the option of offering you a different position.
Your employer also does not have to return you to your former job if it would be hazardous to do so or if it would jeopardize the health and safety of employees, customers or clients.
Contact Us for Help with Your Claim
Construction accident victims may be unsure about how to pursue compensation for their injuries. This is a complex issue you can discuss with the experienced attorneys at Lynch Law Firm, PC.
The consultation is free and confidential. If you have a case, and hire us to represent you, we do not get paid unless you receive compensation.
You can call (800) 518-0508 to schedule your free legal consultation.