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Can Your Illinois Employer Let You Go If You Are On Work Comp?

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We are experienced Illinois work injury attorneys. If you are worried about being fired for bringing a work comp claim, please call us for a free, confidential discussion. We can be reached at 888-705-1766 or through our contact form.

A recent visitor to our live chat feature had this to ask:

I had a quick question. Can your employer let you go if you’re on work comp?

This is a real big concern for many Illinois workers. It’s especially a worry for a lot of employees at smaller companies or in some downstate areas where some people don’t think they have to play by the rules. I’ve spoken to many workers over the years who say that their co-workers filed for work comp and got fired.

There are a few answers to this question. First off, it’s 100% illegal to fire someone because they brought a workers’ compensation claim. While you’d have to prove that’s why you were let go, if you can, you’d potentially have a really significant lawsuit on your hands. In fact, there have been multiple seven-figure cases in the last few years in Illinois from blatantly unlawful firings due to people exercising their right to bring a work comp claim.

In my experience, having an attorney on a work comp case often acts as a deterrent from people getting fired. In part that’s because some employers worry about what we’ll do if they fire you. And it also owes to the fact that if you get fired while on work comp they will have to continue to pay you.

It is legal to fire someone who is on work comp (not because of it). As you can imagine, you can’t show up to work threatening to kill everyone and avoid getting fired just because you are on work comp. It’s also legal to terminate someone for other legitimate reasons such as safety violations, poor performance, or other reasons that workers routinely get fired for.

If you do get fired, not only should your work comp benefits continue, but it can also make your case worth substantially more money. That would be the case if you can’t secure a new job within your work restrictions for comparable money to what you’d be making in the old job.

Bonus tip. It’s also illegal to retaliate against someone for filing a workers’ compensation claim. This means they can’t give you terrible hours or punish you in some other way.

In the big picture, we can’t stop any scumbag from doing something illegal, but we can deter them, help you respond to it and prepare for it. It does happen, but not nearly as often as people think, especially with so many employers needing good workers. If you want to discuss a case please let us know at any time.

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