Your scenario raises a number of issues.
First, from a workers' compensation perspective, you absolutely have a case. If your employer terminates you while you are still subject to restrictions, it must pay you continuing workers' compensation benefits until you finally return to work with a new employer, or until it can convince a judge that you should have returned to work.
Second, you ask if your employer can terminate you. The answer is probably, but it will depend on a number of facts. For example, are you a member of a union? Is your employer covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (the "ADA") in which case, it is possible that terminating you would violate the ADA).
You should promptly consult an attorney who is experienced in handling workers' compensation cases.
This response given is not intended to create and does not create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. It also does not form an attorney-client relationship, and should not be relied upon as legal advice. It is based upon the limited facts provided by the posted question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response may change. I am licensed to practice law only in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Responses are based solely on Pennsylvania law unless stated otherwise.
You have a case.If the employee health doctor refuses to release you
the workers compensation insurance company should put you back on
workers comp benefits. If the employer takes away your light duty job
you can protect your job for a period of time my requesting FMLA.
Alfred J. Carlson, Esq.
1818 Market Street, 35th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19103
p: 215.587.8400 f: 215.587.8417
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As stated by the other responders, if your knee surgery is related to a work injury, which is not clear from your post, you have a potential workers' compensation claim. If you are let go from your employment while under work restrictions for this injury, you enjoy a presumption that your loss of earnings is caused by the injury resulting in a claim for wage loss benefits. If your knee surgery is not related to a work injury, workers' compensation would not apply.
As to job security, Pennsylvania is an employment at will state. Employer's may fire employees with or without cause just not for bad cause. A contract may provide additional job security, and you may have additional rights under the FMLA or ADA as indicated by the other posters.
I would also suggest that you contact a local attorney to review your particular situation and the options available to you.
Timothy D. Belt, Esquire Helping injured workers in Northeast Pennsylvania. firstname.lastname@example.org www.belt-law.com DISCLAIMER: This post is intended as general information applicable only to the state of Pennsylvania. The information given is based strictly upon the facts provided. This post is not intended to create an attorney client relationship, or to provide any specific guarantee of confidentiality.
All good answers. If the knee surgery was work related then you have a WC claim. If not and then let you go, you may have another claim. My gut feeling is that you have a work injury, your employer does not trust your doctor's full duty release (they are concerned about you having a recurrence of your work injury if you were to return to work full duty) and your employer would prefer to replace you with someone else. That being said, you need to get legal advise as to what to do in light of the specifics of your claim. Best of luck to you!
If your employer will not allow you to return to work because according to the occupational health department, you are not fit to work without restrictions, they should be voluntarily paying you total disability benefits under the Workers Compensation Act. If they don't do so voluntarily then a petition for reinstatement should be filed by an attorney on your behalf.