Under the New York workers’ compensation system, you have a right to collect benefits for an injury, provided it was work-related and it keeps you from doing your job. In some instances, the injury may be permanent, so that you can never return to work. But what happens if your injury is not that serious, but it nonetheless takes you weeks or months to get back to work? Is your job protected? Can your employer replace you and decide not to bring you back after you’ve recovered?
First and foremost, it’s clear under New York law that your employer cannot terminate your employment because you filed a valid workers’ compensation claim. These types of allegations can be extremely difficult to prove, as your employment is typically “at will,” meaning that you or your employer can end the relationship at any time, for any reason, provided it’s not in violation of law or public policy. Though it’s against the workers’ compensation laws to fire someone for filing a workers’ compensation claim, the burden will be on you to produce persuasive evidence that you were terminated for that specific reason.
Apart from the prohibition against being fired for filing a work comp claim, there’s nothing in the workers’ compensation laws that requires that you be brought back in the same position when you are healthy again. There are, however, other avenues you may pursue to try to reclaim your job:
- If the recovery period is less than 12 weeks, you can file to protect your job under the Family and Medical Leave Act, which requires that your employer hold your job while you recover from your injury
- You may have a contract—employment or union contract—that provides some level of protection when you have been hurt
Experienced NYC | Brooklyn | Bronx | Queens Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
At Pyrros & Serres LLP, we handle all matters related to workers’ compensation and Social Security disability claims for people in Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx and across the greater New York City metropolitan area. Because of our reputation for effective advocacy, many of our new clients come to us as referrals from clients and other lawyers.
To learn more about the full scope of our practice, see our practice area overview page.