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Can You Be Terminated While on Workers’ Comp in North Carolina?

Thu Feb 15th, by Workers Compensation |

Dealing with an injury that prevents you from being able to work can be incredibly difficult and stressful. Although an unforeseen incident may have caused your injury, it’s still important to be prepared. Consulting with a reputable Concord workers’ compensation lawyer to walk you through your options can alleviate stress. They can ensure that your legal rights as an employee are upheld as you navigate through your recovery and potential return to work.

What Are My Legal Rights as an Employee While Receiving Workers’ Comp in North Carolina?

Every employee qualifying for workers’ compensation in North Carolina is entitled to certain benefits and legal rights. These rights are in place to help provide assistance to employees recovering from injuries and manage the medical and lost wage expenses that can add up quickly after an accident.

In addition to receiving compensation for medical treatment and lost wages, workers are also protected from any potential retaliation or mistreatment from their employers while seeking the benefits that they are entitled to. Under North Carolina’s Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act (REDA), it is unlawful for employees to retaliate against employees who file a workers’ compensation claim.

Now, this does not mean that you would suddenly have absolute job protection, as your employer can still terminate you for any legal reason. As an at-will employee, you can still be fired for any of the reasons that applied prior to your injury, such as not adequately performing your job duties.

What Am I Entitled to if My Employer Retaliates Against Me?

If your employer does violate your rights under North Carolina’s REDA law and terminates your employment because you filed for workers’ compensation, then you are entitled to the following:

  • Financial compensation for any lost wages and benefits that resulted from the illegal retaliatory termination
  • Reinstatement to your previous job position
  • Reinstatement of your full employee benefits and seniority
  • Financial compensation for any applicable legal expenses
  • Triple your financial losses if the illegal termination was willful

It’s important to note that the remedies listed above would be applied in addition to the traditional workers’ compensation benefits that you are already entitled to from your employer.

What Qualifies as Employer Retaliation?

Employer retaliation is defined as negative actions taken by an employer against an employee in direct response to the employee engaging in qualified protected activities. Federal law prohibits employers from retaliating against protected employees, but unfortunately, it can still happen in workers’ compensation cases.

Some of these protected activities by employees include filing a workers’ compensation claim, requesting reasonable accommodations, filing a complaint for discrimination, reporting unethical or illegal practices, and participating in an investigation.

Here are some of the various actions that qualify as employer retaliation under federal law:

  • Termination from their position
  • Demotion from their original position
  • Suspension
  • Reduction of compensation or benefits
  • Reduction of work hours
  • Unfair relocation or transfer to another department
  • Denial of overtime work
  • Denial of eligible promotions or raises
  • Verbal or physical abuse
  • Blacklisting

If you have experienced any of the above actions as retaliation against you while simply exercising your legal rights as a protected employee, then it is vital that you contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer to guide you through your case and ensure that you receive the full extent of legal benefits that you’re entitled to.


Q: Can You Be Fired While on Workers’ Comp in North Carolina?

A: Under North Carolina law, employers are prohibited from retaliating against employers who file for workers’ compensation benefits. However, you can be fired for legal reasons, such as not performing your job duties correctly or committing gross misconduct at work, as long as there is valid evidence that supports those claims.

Filing for workers’ compensation does not provide you with absolute protection of your job, so as an at-will employee, you can still be fired for any of the reasons that applied prior to your injury or filing of workers’ compensation benefits.

Q: Does My Employer Have to Hold My Job While on Workers’ Comp in North Carolina?

A: According to the Industrial Commission, employers are not legally required to hold the injured employee’s job until they can properly return to work if their job responsibilities are crucial and they would suffer a significant financial or productivity loss. Your employer would be able to hire a temporary replacement in that case. However, they are legally obligated to offer you the same or similar position for equivalent pay once you’re ready to return to work.

Q: What Happens if You Quit Your Job While on Workers’ Comp in North Carolina?

A: Even if you resign from your job while receiving workers’ compensation benefits, you should still continue to receive those benefits. However, leaving your job could reduce the amount of benefits you receive by costing you your wage-replacement benefits, which are based on the income that you received at your job prior to the injury. You would still be able to receive benefits towards authorized ongoing medical treatment.

Q: How Does Workers’ Comp Work in North Carolina?

A: In North Carolina, the laws for workers’ compensation provide benefits to employees for medical treatment and wage replacement for injuries that occurred while at work. The amount of wage replacement payments is determined by the employee’s average weekly wage prior to the injury, and any medical treatment must be approved by a doctor in order to receive workers’ comp benefits for them.

Contact M. Reid Acree, Jr., Attorney at Law

M. Reid Acree, Jr., Attorney at Law, is a North Carolina native with over 30 years of legal practice experience. He is a board-certified specialist in workers’ compensation law and is dedicated to providing injured and sick workers across the state with the highest standard of legal care possible. Our team can fight back against the employers and insurance carriers to ensure that your rights as an employee are properly upheld.

Having to miss work because of an injury can feel isolating, but you don’t have to go through it alone. Please feel free to give us a call for a consultation to review your case and determine which options are right for you.