I got a call from the victim of a workplace accident in Houston. She was pretty banged up after the incident, and she hadn't gone back to work yet. Her question to me was a common one: "My employer didn't have workers' comp [meaning they're a non-subscriber]. Can I get fired just because I was injured?" The answer to this might surprise you. But before we get into the nitty-gritty of this specific issue, we invite you to check out our Comprehensive Guide to Non-Subscriber Work Injury Law page where we go into more detail about this often-misunderstood area of the law.
In this article, we try to address the answers to these types of questions:
- Can my non-subscriber employer fire me while I'm still recovering?
- If I file a claim against my employer, I can't get lose my job, right?
- Does the law allow me to sue my non-subscriber boss if he fires me?
There is no law to prevent your non-subscriber boss from firing you after an accident.
You're very likely aware that people can almost never get fired from or denied a job based on the protected categories of race, ethnicity, religion, or gender. But in Texas, that's about it. We live in a "right to work" state that, correspondingly, means "right to fire." The goal of this policy a fluid, flexible workforce, where workers can easily move in and out of employment, and bosses can make sure they're retaining the workers who best fit their needs.
The downside to this is that you can literally be fired for just about anything. You could have faithfully put in 20 years of solid work for your company, and then one day, your boss could fire you because you don't like his favorite movie. Seriously. That's completely legal. Absurd? Perhaps, but that's the law. That also means that if you're injured on the job, your boss is completely within his or her rights to fire you on the spot, just for being injured, before you've even decided whether to exercise your legal rights and file a lawsuit.
The confusion about this question arises from the fact that the workers' comp system is a little different. If your boss was a subscriber, and you got fired for using your comp benefits, then Texas courts allow you to file a lawsuit for retaliation against them. But there are no such protections available to non-subscribers. If that makes you mad, the best thing we can tell you to do is call your state representative now.
How your firing may still benefit your case.
While there's no direct legal prohibition against firing you, a lawyer with experience litigating workers' comp non-subscriber cases can still use the fact that you were fired just after being injured against your employer in your lawsuit. When the jury hears about how shoddily your boss treated you, they may reasonably view it as evidence of how your employer never really cared about their workers. In short, a jury is not likely to look kindly on your employer for getting rid of you in your hour of need.
But the main thing you should be concerned with now is getting the money you need to cover your medical expenses and lost wages. The prospect of being unemployed is no doubt extremely frightening, but our focus will be on proving your non-subscriber case and getting you all the money you deserve. Your health and well-being depend on it.
The bottom line is that if you're afraid of losing your job as a result of exercising your legal rights to file a claim, we completely understand. We've counseled people in your exact situation over and over, and can give you advice on how to approach your boss. Still, at the end of the day, you've only got one body and you need it to work correctly for the rest of your life.
Lastly, with the prospect of unemployment in your future, it might seem intimidating---or even financially ruinous---to hire a lawyer at a time like this. But the good news is that at Grossman Law Offices, you'll never pay out of pocket for any of the legal fees involved in litigating your case. We only collect money for our fees and expenses (filing fees, court costs, etc.) if we get you money, either through your agreeing to a settlement or success at trial. At that point, we take our expenses and fees out of your winnings. You'll never owe us a cent unless we collect an award or settlement for you.
Don't wait until it's too late. We're here 24/7 to answer your questions. Call us at 1-855-326-0000 now.