This is one of the most frequent questions I am asked as a workers’ compensation attorney. The answer is no. An employer cannot fire you for filing a claim for an injury at work or for getting hurt at work. However, an employer can fire you for any other reason as long as that reason is not discriminatory.
The New Jersey Workers’ Compensation statute, N.J.S.A. 34:15-39.1 only prohibits the termination of an employee in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim or for testifying at a workers’ compensation hearing. If you feel you were terminated for these reasons, one alternative is the filing of a discrimination complaint against your employer with the Division of Workers’ Compensation. While the provisions of the law provide for restoration to your former position and payment of lost wages, you must be able to perform the essential duties of that position to avail yourself of any remedy under this portion of the statute. The applicable procedural rules may be found in the Rules of the Division of Workers’ Compensation, N.J.A.C. 12:235 – 9.1 et seq.
If your employer’s actions are not based upon your efforts to secure workers’ compensation benefits for yourself or others, but because of your disabling condition, you may have recourse to claim a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Information concerning the ADA or complaints may be filed by writing or calling the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission at 1801 L. Street. NW, Washington, D.C. 20507, (202) 663-4900; Fax (202) 663-4912.
The EEOC may also be reached from Mercer County (except Monmouth) and South by calling 215-451-5800 or from Monmouth County (except Mercer) and North by calling 1(800) 669-4000 (T.D.D. 973-645-3004).
To be safe if you are injured at work you should consult with a workers’ compensation attorney to find out how to protect yourself and to learn your rights. At Stark & Stark, we offer free consultations and our fees are contingent upon you receiving an award. Our experienced attorneys and staff look forward to helping you navigate through the workers’ compensation system.