In short, an employer cannot legally fire an employee for filing a workers' compensation claim.
What is Workers' Compensation?
Workers' compensation provides employees with benefits when an employee sustains a work-related illness and/or injury. Workers' compensation may pay for medical bills and benefits for temporary or permanent disabilities.
Can I Get Fired After I File a Workers' Compensation Claim?
California is an “at will” state for employment. This means that the employer and the employee can terminate the employment at any time and without notice. Employers, however, are not permitted to terminate an employee's employment for unlawful reasons. If an employee is terminated for unlawful reasons, the employee has the right to file a wrongful termination claim against the employer.
Californians have a constitutional right to file a claim for a work-related injury and receive workers' compensation benefits. California Labor Code section 132a explicitly prohibits employers from terminating, threatening to terminate, or discriminating against employees that file workers' compensation claims. If an employer terminates an employee's employment or discriminates against the employee for filing a workers' compensation claim, the employee can file a wrongful termination claim against the employee. The employee is also entitled to:
- A 50% increase in the workers' compensation benefit, up to $10,000;
- Cost and expenses not to exceed $250
- Reinstatement; and
- Lost wages and benefits.
Employers that terminate an employee for filing a workers' compensation claim are also guilty of a misdemeanor.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim?
Employees that were wrongfully terminated for filing a workers' compensation claim have one year from the date of termination to file a claim under California Labor Code section 132a. Workers' compensation claims are handled by the employer's insurer. Claims under California Labor Code section 132a are filed against the employer.