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Can I Be Fired if I Have an Open Worker’s Comp Claim in Texas?

In the state of Texas, firing an injured worker for filing a worker's compensation claim is illegal.

Many clients who come to us for help after they have been injured while working are afraid to file a claim against their employer for fear of losing their job. What many people don't realize is that Texas Labor Laws expressly protect against this kind of discrimination. They also protect your right to hire an attorney to represent you in your worker's compensation claim.

In this article, our attorneys will explain the laws that are in place that prevent retaliatory behavior by employers.

Questions answered in this article:

  • Which Texas law says that retaliation against an injured worker is illegal?
  • What does it mean to file a claim in good faith?
  • Why does this statute exist?

Interpreting the Law:

The law applicable to this particular discussion is Sec. 451.001 of the Texas Labor Code:

Sec. 451.001. DISCRIMINATION AGAINST EMPLOYEES PROHIBITED. A person may not discharge or in any other manner discriminate against an employee because the employee has:

  • filed a workers' compensation claim in good faith;
  • hired a lawyer to represent the employee in a claim;
  • instituted or caused to be instituted in good faith a proceeding under Subtitle A; or
  • testified or is about to testify in a proceeding under Subtitle A.

The law explicitly states that your employer cannot terminate you for simply filing a claim for compensation if you have been injured while on the job. And it also protects your right to contact an attorney or asking them to represent you in your claim to ensure that you are treated fairly and receive adequate compensation. Furthermore it provides protection for coworkers of yours to testify on your behalf, and therefore, equally protects you if the need arises for you to testify on behalf of another coworker.

What does it mean to file a claim in good faith?

The key here is that the worker's compensation claim must be brought in good faith. If you do not bring a claim in good faith, then they may have reason to fire you despite this protection. So what does good faith mean and what qualifies as a good faith claim? Good faith simply means that you are not being deceitful in any way, and your claim for compensation is valid.

For instance, let's say you work as a delivery driver for a local bakery and you were injured in a car accident while making a delivery because your employer had failed to maintain the brakes on the delivery van. In this situation your employer would be responsible. You were working within the scope of your employment, you were not acting reckless, and the accident was a direct result of your employer's negligence. You have a valid claim for workers' compensation and you rightfully deserve payment for your injuries.

However, let's say that you wanted some time off from work with pay so you intentionally wrecked the delivery truck and you are now attempting to file a worker's compensation claim. In this scenario, if you file a workers' compensation claim trying to receive payment for your injuries which you intentionally caused, your claim is considered to be in bad faith because your injuries are self-inflicted and intentional. Your employer would be 100% entitled to fire you, and the law would support them in that decision.

Why is it illegal for employers to fire work accident victims?

The purpose of this law is to protect innocent victims who genuinely need compensation in order to pay for their injuries and necessary treatment. Lawmakers understand that you need this compensation to get back on your feet, and seeking an workers' compensation injury attorney to advise you in this process is simply for your protection.

If for some reason your employer is treating you unfairly and threatening to fire you for filing a worker's comp claim, it is crucial that you speak with us so that we may have an opportunity to defend your rights as a worker and protect your job. To learn more about your rights as worker and how Grossman Law Offices may be able to assist you in enforcing these rights, contact Grossman Law Offices at (855) 326-0000.

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