Employment Law Compliance: Disciplining or Terminating a Workers' Comp Claimant

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February 15, 2013 — 1,944 views  
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If you run your own company, or work as a manager in a firm, there might be an instance where you have to terminate or discipline a worker's compensation claimant. Disciplining or terminating a worker's compensation claimant is not an easy task, and it can have a lot of legal implications as well. So you need to make sure that you follow a systematic procedure to do it.

When can you terminate a Claim?

If you are looking at terminating a workers compensation claim, make sure that you consider its legal implications. This is because in some instances, a termination can be warranted. According to most of the WC claim laws, an employer is not allowed to discriminate or discharge a workers' comp claimant just because the workers are seeking for compensation benefits.

Nonetheless, the employer has the legal right to terminate a pending workers' comp claimant on the basis of employee misconduct. However, the employee misconduct should not be related to the compensation claim itself. So ideally, the employer needs to prove that the termination of the claimant is based on credible reasons, and not on the basis of some sort of personal gain.

When can you Discipline a Claim?

As an employer, you also have the option of disciplining a claimant. Disciplining a claim and terminating it can be done with a similar procedure, provided the reasons behind both the actions are justified. When this procedure goes to the court, the judge will consider the fairness with which you as an employer present the cause for the discipline. So it's essential that the act is based on a good cause.

In order to prove that you have a good cause for disciplining the claim, you need to follow a step-by-step progressive discipline system. Make sure that you don't skip any steps in the workers' compensation claimants. If you do skip steps in the process, the employee can make a claim saying that he was treated with discrimination.

Steps in Terminating or Disciplining a Claimant

  • Keep a record of all your employees’ disciplinary acts, especially in the context of the protected employees. This will help you justify the fact that the discipline received by the employee was comparable. For example, show how other employees who committed similar infractions but were not injured.
  • Document the performance evaluations of all your employees over a period of time. Furthermore, be consistent in the way that you conduct these evaluations. Also, make sure that you are fair in evaluating the employee who is making the claim once the claim has been filed.
  • To make your case stronger, you can get statements from coworkers or the supervisors on the cause for the termination or the discipline.
  • Make sure that you have an anti-retaliation policy. This will help you establish your intentions in the court. However, make sure that the anti-retaliation policy has a compliant mechanism that will limit the possibility of retaliation.

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