Most people are eager to return to work after an on-the-job injury. However, many discover they have been temporarily or permanently replaced while their work injuries were healing. Can an employer give away your job if you were hurt at work? Our MA workers’ comp attorneys explain.
A Work Injury in Massachusetts Could Cost You Your Job
In Massachusetts, your employer is not legally required to hold your job open if you cannot work. However, there are some important exceptions. You may be able to return to work after your injuries have healed if you:
- Qualify for rehiring consideration. Massachusetts law MGL 152 § 75A requires employers to give preference to the rehiring of employees who: 1) lost their positions as a result of a work-related injury; 2) can return to work; 3) have an injury compensable under workers’ compensation law; and 4) are qualified candidates for the job. Essentially, if the employer has an open and available position, they must give hiring preference to a former employee with a compensable injury over any other applicant.
- Are partially disabled due to work injury. MGL 152 § 75B states that any employee who has suffered a work-related injury and is capable of performing the essential functions of a particular job shall have the same employment protections as a qualified disabled person. This includes providing reasonable accommodations or the option to work in a reduced capacity within the same department if the disabled worker can do so. However, employers can hire temporary workers to fill vacancies pending an injured employee’s return to employment.
- Are protected under employment or union contracts. If job protection is guaranteed under a collective bargaining agreement or an employment contract of hire, the benefits provided under the collective bargaining agreement or contract will prevail.
- Need vocational retraining. Under MGL 152 § 30I, the Department of Industrial Accidents is required to provide unemployment assistance up to and including job retraining programs to disabled employees eligible for compensation benefits.
Suing Your Employer for Wrongful Termination
If the company you work for terminated your employment, it may be in your best interest to speak to a workers’ compensation lawyer. State laws have restrictions on how and when employees may be fired or laid off, and you could be owed compensation for a violation of your rights.
Wrongful termination may have occurred if you were fired because:
- You are disabled. Both state and federal laws prevent employment discrimination based on physical disabilities. An employer who violates these statutes may be held liable for the total amount of an employee’s lost wages and reasonable attorney fees. Depending on the situation, the employer may be ordered to reinstate the employee or grant them a suitable job.
- You filed a benefits claim. It’s illegal for an employer to discharge, demote, refuse to hire, or otherwise discriminate against an employee for collecting workers’ compensation benefits or cooperating with a work accident inquiry. If an employer retaliated against an employee for filing a valid benefit claim, the court might order the employer to pay for the worker’s lost wages and attorney fees, reinstate the worker, and provide other equitable relief.
Have You Been Hurt on the Job in Massachusetts?
If you were injured on the job in Massachusetts, you most likely have many questions. Feel free to call the workers’ compensation attorneys at Mahaney & Pappas, LLP at 508-879-3500, or contact us online. You should take the time to speak with our legal team, so we can evaluate your case for free. It just might be the best decision you make.