What Happens to My Job While I’m on Workers’ Compensation?
The overwhelming majority of employees in Wisconsin are covered under the state’s no-fault workers’ compensation insurance system. If you get hurt on the job, workers’ comp benefits will cover your medical treatment, lost wages, and long-term disabilities or impairments. You may be wondering: What will happen to my job while I am collecting workers’ compensation?
The short answer is “it depends” — a Wisconsin employer cannot fire you for filing for workers’ comp, but employers do retain significant discretion over their own personnel decisions. Below, our Milwaukee workers’ compensation lawyers provide a more detailed explanation of the most important things you need to know about Wisconsin law.
Wisconsin Law: You Have the Right to File for Workers’ Comp Without Facing Retribution
As a starting point, it must be emphasized you have the right to file for workers’ compensation benefits. You cannot be fired, forced to resign, demoted, or otherwise punished by your employer for filing a claim. Under Wisconsin law (Wis. Stat. § 102.35), an employer can be held legally liable for back wages and benefits if it unlawfully fires or refuses to rehire a worker simply because they filed a workers’ comp claim.
These types of employment law claims are known as unlawful retaliation cases. If you faced retaliation for seeking workers’ comp benefits in Wisconsin, your legal rights were violated. Likewise, if an employer tried to persuade you not to file a claim, your rights were violated. Call a qualified Milwaukee attorney right away.
Limitation: Wisconsin is an ‘At-Will’ Employment State
There are limitations to your employment protections. Wisconsin is an ‘at-will’ employment state — meaning, without a contract, both employers and employees retain the right to end a relationship at any time and for virtually any reason. Employers cannot terminate workers for an illegal reason — such as in retaliation for filing for workers’ comp benefits — but they can fire workers for other reasons.
In other words, your job is not fully guaranteed while you take the time to recover from your injuries. For example, imagine if a Milwaukee company decided to restructure and lay off 25 percent of its workforce. That company may be able to lay off or refuse to rehire an employee who is currently receiving workers’ comp benefits. However, they can only do so if they can establish workers’ comp played no role in their decision. The injured worker must be treated equally to other employees. In some cases, employers try to conceal their unlawful, retaliatory motive with pretextual (false) reasoning.
Call Our Milwaukee Workers’ Comp Attorney for Immediate Help
At Gillick, Wicht, Gillick & Graf, our Milwaukee work injury lawyers are aggressive, effective advocates for injured workers. We will protect your rights and help you maximize your benefits. If you have questions about your job and your workers’ comp benefits, our attorneys can help. Contact us today for a free, comprehensive initial consultation. From our Milwaukee office, we advocate for injured workers throughout all of Wisconsin.