The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there were over 900,000 work-related injuries or illnesses in 2018 that caused a victim to miss time at work. In Oklahoma, people that are unable to perform any type of work while they recover from work-related injuries are considered temporarily disabled. These individuals are entitled to temporary disability benefits, which will help them make ends meet until they fully recover.
But what happens when they are ready to go back to work? Is their job protected during their recovery? Here’s what you need to know:
Does the Workers’ Compensation System Provide Job Protection?
Oklahoma is an at-will employment state, which means employers have the right to terminate employees at any time. However, there are some exceptions to this rule.
One exception to the at-will employment law applies to temporarily disabled workers. By law, employers are prohibited from terminating temporarily disabled employees solely because they have had to take time off of work to recover. Employers are also legally prohibited from terminating temporarily disabled employees to avoid paying workers’ compensation benefits. This means you cannot be fired simply because you are not at work while you recover from your work-related injuries.
Are Employers Required to Rehire or Retrain Temporarily Disabled Employees?
Injured workers are evaluated by a physician after exhausting their temporary total disability benefits. These workers must be evaluated to determine whether or not they are capable of returning to work and performing their pre-injury job duties.
Sadly, many workers who have exhausted their temporary total disability benefits find that they are physically unable to return to their pre-injury position. In this case, their employer is not legally obligated to rehire or retrain them so they can work in another position.
For example, let’s say you are injured while working in a warehouse. You undergo a medical evaluation after exhausting your temporary disability benefits. Your doctor believes you are physically unable to return to your pre-injury position as a result of your work-related injuries. It’s possible that you could perform other types of work, but your employer is not required to offer you or train you for another position within the company.
Have you been injured at work? If so, seek legal representation from the experienced attorneys at Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. right away. Our attorneys have helped countless workers fight for workers’ compensation benefits. Now, let us help you secure the benefits you deserve. 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.