In North Carolina your employer may terminate your position for any reason as long as it is not an illegal one. Some protected classes like gender, race, religious affiliation, national origin and age are a few examples of illegal reasons.
If you suffer a serious injury and you are out of work, collecting workers’ compensation benefits, your employer may decide to terminate your employment due to your physical condition and your inability to perform your job duties. If that happens, you will continue to collect workers’ compensation benefits until you return to some other job or until your case is settled. This is true even if your doctor determines that you are able to return to work with some restrictions. If your employer does not have a job that meets your restrictions or has terminated your employment, workers’ compensation is responsible for paying weekly compensation until you are able to return to work or until the Industrial Commission determines that you are no longer disabled. However, if you are fired for a specific reason that is unrelated to your work restrictions, you are entitled to medical treatment but not to workers’ compensation wages.
While you are treating for your workers’ compensation injuries, and are not yet determined to be at maximum medical improvement, your employer is permitted to accommodate your work restrictions and can create a job specifically for you. After you reach maximum medical improvement, however, there are different rules for accommodating any permanent restrictions you may have.
Returning to work after a workers’ compensation injury can be a complicated and confusing ordeal. There are laws which govern this process. The workers’ compensation insurance carriers are not obligated to offer you legal advice. It is wise to retain an experienced workers’ compensation attorney in North Carolina to protect your rights. If you have been injured on the job, call us today at 704-333-0885. With offices in Charlotte, Gastonia, Hickory, Monroe and Rock Hill, SC we have legal assistance close to you.
Written by Melanie Meacham, Workers’ Compensation Paralegal with Campbell & Associates, Attorneys at Law