30 Jun As an Arizona Worker, if I File a Workers’ Compensation Claim, Can I Still be Fired?
If you were injured in a workplace accident for an Arizona employer and you filed a workers’ compensation claim, could you be fired? The short answer is yes, but there are conditions.
Arizona is an “employment-at-will” and “right-to-work” state which has two different meanings. While it sounds like employees could be fired at any time by the employer for nothing at all, that can be true, but up to a point.
In Arizona, there are laws in place which restrict employers from firing an employee because of race, national origin, age over 40, disabilities, filing a workers’ compensation, and more. This provides a stopping point whereby employers must have a good reason for firing someone, such as committing fraud or stealing money from company accounts (usually a white-collar crime), or purposely creating a hazardous place to work which affects all employees. Usually, if an employee is fired under any of those conditions, that employee cannot receive unemployment benefits either, especially if the employee is convicted and sent to jail.
This status allows both the employer and/or the employee to terminate the job at any time, particularly where an employee has been offered a better job elsewhere. In this case, a two-week notification is not needed when leaving a company. Employers may also fire employees at will, without having to give any explanation.
While the job has a beginning date, the employer is not obligated to state for how long the job will continue. One can presume that if the employer is happy with the employee’s work production, then the employee will stay on indefinitely. But there always comes that day when the worst happens. You should already have Plan B in the works for finding another job.
If an employee has been fired but strongly suspects that it is because of age-related issues or because of race, the employee can file a lawsuit against the employer. The employee must be able to prove that one of these protection laws was the reason for being fired in order to win a settlement. If the employer or a manager spouts racial slurs either directly to the employee, or behind the employee’s back, then this is a case of racism.
If an employee at age 55 hears that the employer is complaining to others that “Bob” cannot carry his weight (sometimes literally) on the job, or that “Bob” is too slow on the job because of his age, then this could be a case of age racism. If “Bob” can show that he continues to receive A-level work reports every year, then obviously the work production level is not the problem.
An injured employee who files a claim, cannot be fired by the employer for that reason. If there is a permanent injury, and the employee cannot work in that position again, and there is no other position the employee can fill, the employer can let that employee go. However, workers’ compensation benefits will continue. Read more here about filing claims and getting fired.
The right-to-work law means that if a new employee joins a company whose members belong to a union and pay dues, the new employee does not have to join and pay dues like the other employees. A new employee should weigh whether it is beneficial to join the union that may provide protections and other perks that non-union members do not enjoy.
The decision depends on the employer’s trade industry and what the benefits and protections are for joining. No employee should join the union because the employee was forced or threatened to do so.
Filing a workers’ compensation claim does not ensure that you will not be fired, but it is less likely to happen if you are approved for the claim and receive benefits and medical care support. If you run into this problem, call us immediately for a free consultation of your case. We are here to help you. 602-346-9009.