Under criminal law in Maryland, it is a criminal offense to terminate an employee for the simple act of filing a workers’ compensation claim. However, in order for your employer to be found guilty of this charge, you will have to prove they terminated you for the specific reason that you filed the workers’ compensation claim. Through your workers’ compensation attorney your claim should be brought before the state’s attorney or court commissioner at a courthouse nearest to your place of employment.
Filing the claim must be the exclusive reason for termination
In Maryland, is not legal for an employer to fire you for simply filing a workers’ comp claim. As an injured worker, you have the legal right to file such a claim. However, the law in Maryland places a caveat on this action. An employer cannot fire you “solely” for filing a claim for workers’ compensation. Translated – they can fire you as long as your act of filing the claim is not the only cause for your termination.
If you are able to prove you were terminated for filing a workers’ comp claim in Maryland, you may have the right to file a civil lawsuit against your former employer for wrongful termination. The grounds for such a lawsuit would be based on the fact that it is illegal to fire someone under Maryland law for claiming rights to which they are entitled to under the law. One piece of evidence that may indicate an employer fired you solely due to the fact that you filed a claim is if they terminated you the very day after they received notification you filed the claim.
The employer’s right to replace you
We have established that it is against the law to fire an employee for the exclusive reason of that employee’s filing for workers’ compensation. However, it is still relatively easy for an employer to terminate an employee after they have suffered an injury without committing wrongful termination. As an example, if a construction worker suffers an injury on the job and must have his leg amputated, the employer is not obligated to keep that individual employed. The employer also does not owe that individual another position within the company – for instance, a desk job.
If the employee’s job is essential, the employer will have as a top priority replacing the injured employee who held that position as soon as possible. An employer has the right to replace an employee who is not available to perform the work. This can play out to the unfortunate circumstance of the injured employee not having the opportunity to regain the position when he or she is available to return to work. In such a case, the injured employee will have no civil or criminal remedy available for losing the position.
However, you may have the opportunity to enter vocational rehabilitation if your employer does replace you and you are no longer capable of performing your past job duties due to your injury. With vocational rehabilitation, the insurance company of your employer will assign you a counselor to help you find a new job and career and provide you compensation during your search.
Simply losing your job through termination does not automatically equate to losing your workers’ compensation benefits. If you are injured on the job, you may have access to permanent partial benefits (PPD) and temporary total benefits (TTD), including any other compensation to which you were entitled. The critical factor is: Were you injured while on the job?
If you suffered an injury during the course of your employment, you have a right under Maryland law to make a claim for benefits. It’s important to have an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer on your side to ensure your rights are protected and your claim is presented in the most effective manner possible. At Plaxen & Adler, P.A., we have extensive experience helping injured workers recover the benefits they need to cover lost wages, medical expenses, and more. To set up a free consultation about your case, complete our contact form or call our Maryland workers’ compensation lawyers today at 410.988.4449.