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Can you let an employee go after a workers’ compensation claim?

When your employee was injured on the job, you felt horrible. The hazard was something that should have been prevented, but it wasn’t. Even though you’re willing to allow the claim to go forward and could support the worker, you want to let them go. They played a part in the accident, and you feel like this was a situation that could have been avoided if they’d followed the safety procedures at work.

You’re in a difficult position because you want to fire the employee for their disregard of safety rules, but you also don’t want to run afoul of the law. You wonder if you can simply let the worker go after agreeing with the claim so that they won’t return.

Can you fire an employee after they make a workers’ compensation claim?

The short answer to this is a resounding “no,” but there are some exceptions. For example, if the worker makes the claim but you were planning to let them go for unrelated reasons, then you may still be able to terminate their position while the claim is in process.

If you do decide to walk that fine legal line, make sure you document the reasons, unrelated to the workers’ compensation claim, for which you want to terminate the employee. For example, is this the third or fourth time that they’ve put themselves or others in danger? You might have been interested in letting them go because of the danger they pose to themselves or others.

If you want to terminate the employee, it’s smart to talk to your attorney first. This is a complex situation and one to think through carefully.