The short answer is yes (sort of).
How come? Because there is nothing in workers compensation law, which requires an employer to keep on an employee who cannot do the job because of a work-related injury, even if that injury was caused by work. So if your employer lets you go because you cannot work, that is not illegal under Vermont workers compensation law.
What Is the Right of Reinstatement?
The only right provided by workers compensation law is what’s called a right of reinstatement: if you fully recover from your work injury within two years, and you keep your employer apprised of your recovery, the employer is obligated to rehire you.
What Other Options Do I Have If I’m Fired After a Workplace Injury?
Here are some other Vermont labor laws that might provide you with some protection from being terminated. Under employment discrimination laws, an employer is not allowed to retaliate against a worker for:
- Filing a workers compensation claim
- Reporting a work injury
- Reporting an accident in the workplace
This means that an employer can’t fire you because you filed a workers compensation claim or had a work injury. In order to have a retaliation claim, the worker has to prove that the reason he/she was fired was because of the workers’ compensation claim, and not some other reason.
What if My Work-Related Injury Requires Medical Leave?
Under Vermont’s medical leave laws, an employer may be required to give you medical leave and hold your job open for twelve weeks if you qualify under the federal or state Family and Medical Leave Act. Keep in mind, however, that there is some fine print.
The medical leave laws don’t apply to very small companies, and you must have been employed for a certain amount of time and worked a certain amount of hours to qualify for protection under these laws. These laws only require employers to hold your job for twelve weeks; so if you are out more than twelve weeks in a year for a medical condition, you can be terminated.
Can My Union Help Me?
Lastly, some union contracts provide protection in this situation. If you are in a union you should speak to your union representative about filing a grievance if you are fired after a work injury.
Do you have questions about a work-related injury?