Is my job protected while I am out on workers’ comp?

Oil field workers, warehouse workers, construction workers, personal care assistants and a multitude of other professionals work strenuous jobs that have certain risks. Sometimes these jobs lead to injuries that require filing a workers’ compensation claim.

Many workers worry about their job status while out of work on a workers’ compensation claim. But injured workers should have some peace of mind because Oklahoma and federal law protects workers’ jobs when they are on disability. Most industrial and commercial employers carry workers’ compensation insurance or self-insure. A part-time or full-time worker, who is injured on the job, is eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Employers are not legally obligated to provide workers’ comp insurance to independent contractors.

Oklahoma at-will employment state

Oklahoma is an “at-will” state for employment rights, so you or the employer can end the employment at any time and for almost any reason. However, the employer cannot end your employment because you sustained an injury on the job and you need rehabilitation to recover from those injuries. In addition, an employer cannot fire you for contacting a lawyer, filing a workers’ comp claim, requesting a workers’ comp hearing or providing testimony at a that hearing.

Oklahoma and all other states prohibit an employer from terminating an employee for an injury or impeding or preventing the worker from following the workers’ comp claim process. If the firing was unjustified or illegal, it may be difficult to prove in some cases because it may be difficult to establish a legitimate or illegitimate motive. If your supervisor has made derogatory comments about workers’ comp, workers’ comp lawyers or false states about job performance, this provide some evidence of discrimination.

Claim filing process

Oklahoma passed the AWCA (Administrative Workers’ Compensation Act) in 2014. If a worker suffers an injury, he or she must file a claim with the Workers’ Compensation Commission. The Commission processes workers’ comp claim. In addition, it also has exclusive jurisdiction to consider workers’ comp retaliation and discrimination claims, rather than a court.

Returning to work after workers comp leave

Simply put, your employer is legally bound to let you return to work once you have completed your rehabilitation and you’re able to resume your work duties. If your employer attempts to dismiss or discourage you from continuing your work, you can file workers’ discrimination complaint with AWCA.

An injured worker may also qualify for job protection under Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Oklahoma Anti-Discrimination Act. The law compels an employer to work with an employee to adjust the work and retain the job. Employers must provide reasonable accommodations to professionals and laborers with disabilities and disabilities that may have come from a work accident.

State and federal laws protect your job while you’re rehabilitating and recovering from your injuries, so you can focus on returning to full health and retaining your well-being.

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