Getting Fired after being injured at Work in North Carolina: Do you still have a case?
Many people who are injured at work feel that if they are fired they no longer have a case. While this could be true in a few select circumstances, for the most part this is a myth. In this article we will explain why this is a myth and what you can do if you are fired after being injured on the job
I have been fired from my job, now what?If you are injured at work and you are under restrictions by your doctor due to that work- related injury, you still have a case, even if you were fired. The important thing to note is that you must have documentation from your doctor that says your injuries were caused by the work-related accident and you cannot perform your job duties or that you otherwise have physical restrictions because of those injuries.
The ExceptionThe exception to this myth is if you were fired for just cause and you are not under work restrictions set by a doctor. In other words, if the only reason you are not working is because you were fired for just cause, and you are not under a doctor's physical restrictions because of your work injury, you would not be entitled to continue to get workers' compensation.
North Carolina LawUnder North Carolina law, if you are injured at work and you have been given restrictions by your doctor due to those injuries and then you get fired, your employer has to prove 3 things before being fired would negatively affect your benefits: First, they would have to prove that you were fired for misconduct. Second, they would have to prove that the same misconduct would have gotten anyone fired, even if he or she was not under any restrictions. Third, they would have to prove that the termination had nothing to do with your work-related injury. Here's the great news, though: Even if your employer can prove all three of the above, if you can prove that the reason you cannot find work after you are fired is because of the work-related injury, you are still entitled to benefits.
How to ensure you continue you get benefits even if you are firedAssuming that you are under some kind of physical restrictions due to your work injury, the best way to ensure that you continue getting benefits, even if you are fired, is to actively engage in a job search and keep track of all your results. It is best to search for at least 5 jobs a week and keep a very detailed list and a chart that sets forth all the information about what jobs you applied for. This is commonly referred to as a 'job log.' In your log, include the date you applied or inquired about a job, the name and address of the company, the name of anyone you speak with in the company, the phone number, and the reason why you did not get the job. It is important to remember that all the jobs you look for must be within your physical restrictions, and within your capacity and training. For instance, even though it is in your physical restrictions, you shouldn't apply for a job as an accountant unless you are actually qualified to perform that job. The point of the job log is to prove--- to the satisfaction of the North Carolina Industrial Commission-- that you have made a reasonable effort to find suitable employment within the physical restrictions set forth by your doctor. What you are demonstrating to the Commission is that despite those efforts to find work, you have been unable to find such employment. That will help ensure that you will be awarded benefits. Another way to ensure you continue to get benefits would be to register with your local vocational rehabilitation office. If you can get them to test and evaluate you and get them to put their recommendations in writing, it can also help you with your benefits. Finally, if you are receiving unemployment benefits, then you know that the unemployment office requires you to search for at least two jobs per week. The Industrial Commission will usually consider evidence of those searches pursuant to receipt of unemployment benefits a sufficient effort to find employment, assuming you can obtain copies of the printouts of your job searches. You should be aware that if you are awarded benefits by the Commission, the employer will get a credit for all unemployment benefits it has paid to date.