Each year, various workers suffer injuries or fall ill while on the clock at work here in Baltimore. In fact, data published by the Maryland Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH) for the most recently documented year (2017) shows that 62,600 nonfatal workplace illnesses or injuries were reported to the state agency that year.
While the likelihood is that the overwhelming majority of the workers who suffered on-the-job injuries or illnesses ultimately recovered from their injuries and were able to go back to work, there’s a chance that they couldn’t return to their previous role and had to find another type of job. In this situation, you may wonder how workers’ compensation affects future employment. We’ll let you know what impact, if any, it has below.
Can Your Current Employer Use Your Receipt of Maryland Workers’ Compensation To Fire You?
If you’re worried about your employer firing you for filing a workers’ comp claim after you were hurt on the job here in Baltimore, don’t be. It’s unlawful for an employer to let a worker go out of retaliation simply because they filed a claim for workers’ compensation. However, since Maryland is an at-will employment state, employers may be within their legal rights to let you go if they assert you were a poor-performing employee, violated company policies or the law, or if they have a layoff, though. Thus, there may be some overlap between being slated to receive workers’ compensation benefits after you’re hurt at work and being let go.
Just keep in mind, though, that if you have a strong record of work performance or you haven’t done anything explicitly wrong and get let go from your job after filing a workers’ compensation claim, such actions may fall into the category of retaliatory action, giving you a valid reason to also file a wrongful termination lawsuit.
Do Workers’ Compensation Benefits End if You’re Fired in Maryland?
Generally, you wouldn’t have your workers’ compensation benefits terminated until you were deemed healed. However, the benefits could be terminated by the Maryland workers’ compensation insurer if your injury incident were deemed to have resulted from unlawful activity or some other actions for which you were disciplined, for example.
How a Past Workers’ Comp Claim Impacts Future Employment Prospects
If you go to apply for another job, it’s plausible that your prospective new employer may, at some point, learn about your past filing of a workers’ compensation claim. After all, that information is sometimes included in background check reports.
Having previously received workers’ compensation benefits for an injury you suffered or exacerbated on the job shouldn’t affect your ability to secure future employment. Why is that the case? Because if an employer were to know about and use that detail as a reason for not hiring you for the role, that decision could rise to the level of disability discrimination, which is not only unlawful per federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission rules but also Title 20 of the Annotated Code of Maryland, too.
As you’ll notice mentioned in the description of the federal and state statutes on the Maryland Department of Health Office of Equal Opportunity Programs website cited above, our state’s employers must make reasonable accommodations for job applicants and employees. If they fail to do so, their actions may constitute discrimination.
Understanding Your Rights as a Maryland Employee
All employers in Maryland with at least one employee are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance with very few exceptions. However, they’re not obligated to seek coverage if all they have working for them are independent contractors or have another indirect working relationship beyond your standard employer-employee one. The importance of bringing all this up is that it can affect your ability to file a workers’ compensation claim in the first place.
You are entitled to file a workers’ compensation claim in Maryland provided you have a more traditional employer-employee work relationship, and your illness or injury happened either “on the job” or was “arising out of and in the course of employment” per the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission. So, any attempt an employer may make to get you to not file a workers’ comp claim and to penalize you for doing so is unlawful. Also, since you’re legally entitled to file a claim, any attempts to use that against you if you try to return or seek further employment is illegal as well in most cases.
When You May Need an Attorney To Help in Your Workers’ Compensation Matter
Like any insurance company, premiums Baltimore employers may have to pay for their workers’ comp coverage may increase the more claims are filed with it. This may initially motivate employers to be evasive in providing their workers with information on how to file a claim. If that strategy doesn’t work, they may attempt to fire a worker who caused them to incur these extra financial costs.
Here at Belsky & Horowitz, LLC, we have a long track record of pursuing employers who aren’t straightforward in providing injured employees with information on how to file a claim. We also have extensive experience helping workers with denied claims and answering questions about how filing a claim may impact their future employment. We can help you too. Call us for a free consultation to discuss any concerns you may have.