I’m Temporarily Unable to Work Due to A Workplace Injury. Is My Job Protected?


Posted by: Chris

Many people who are involved in workplace accidents find themselves unable to perform their job duties due to their injuries. As a result, they are forced to take a temporary leave of absence to focus on their recovery. If you are in this situation, it’s important to understand whether or not your position is protected while you recover from your work-related injuries.

Can An Employer Fire An Injured Worker?

The laws regarding the rights of injured workers in Oklahoma are clear. An employee who is on leave because his workplace injuries temporarily prevent him from performing his job duties cannot be fired simply because he is absent from work. Employers are also prohibited from firing injured employees solely so they can avoid paying benefits to him.

Employers that violate this law can face legal consequences for retaliating against an injured worker. 

When Can An Employer Terminate An Injured Worker?

There are several exceptions to this rule that allow an employer to terminate an injured worker. However, these exceptions only apply to injured workers who have exhausted their temporary total disability benefits.

For example, let’s say a worker has come to the end of his 104-week period of temporary total disability. He is examined by a qualified physician, who determines that he will never be able to perform his job duties again as a result of his workplace injuries. In this case, his employer is not legally obligated to keep him employed with the company. If he is unable to perform his job duties, the employer can terminate the worker’s employment without facing consequences, unless another law is available, such as the American’s with Disabilities Act, that may provide additional protection to the employee. 

Keep in mind that this only occurs once the injured worker has exhausted his temporary total disability benefits. If he is still receiving these benefits, an employer cannot fire him simply because he is temporarily unable to do his job.

Employers can also terminate an employee if his position is no longer available once his temporary total disability period is over. For instance, let’s say an employee takes a two-year leave of absence in order to recover from his workplace injuries. At the end of this temporary total disability period, he is ready to return to his old job. But unfortunately, his employer has eliminated the position due to budget cuts that took place during his leave of absence. In this case, the employer is not legally obligated to keep the employee onboard. 

Have you been injured at work? If so, contact Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. at once. Our experienced attorneys will aggressively fight to secure the workers’ compensation benefits you are entitled to by law. Call us now at 918-582-2500, toll free at (800) 722-8880, or contact us online for a free consultation with a skilled attorney.