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Can a company in Nevada fire a worker for making a workers compensation claim?

Posted by Neil Shouse | Nov 01, 2018 | 0 Comments

No, it is unlawful in Nevada for employers to fire a worker solely for filing a workers' compensation claim. If this occurs, the worker can sue the employer for wrongful termination in Nevada.

Recall that Nevada is an at-will employment state. This means that employers in general may fire their employees at any time for any reason. One of the few exceptions to this rule is filing for workers' compensation:

Therefore, if an injured employee sues an employer for wrongful termination, the employee would have to prove to the court that the reason for the firing was the workers' comp claim. In response, the employer would try to show that the employee was fired for reasons that had nothing to do with the workers' comp claim, such as:

  • The worker was late,
  • The worker was unmotivated,
  • The worker kept calling in sick without a good medical excuse

Note that in general, any employer who has one or more employees must provide workers' compensation insurance coverage.

Termination for refusing to do light duty work

Some injured employees are still physically able to do “light duty work.” The workers' doctors will outline the parameters of their physical abilities, and the employers are obligated to accommodate them if possible.

If injured workers refuse to carry out the light duty work, then the employer has legal grounds to fire them. In addition, workers' refusal to do light duty work may cost them their workers' compensation benefits.

Note that light duty jobs that are permanent may not be demeaning to the employee. But for employees who can get back to their previous jobs once they heal from the injuries, the employer can assign them temporary light duty jobs that may be beneath them.

What to do after a work injury

Employees who have sustained an injury at work should tell their boss and request a C-1 form (Notice of Injury or Occupational Disease). Injured employees should also request from their doctor a C-4 form (Employee's Claim for Compensation/Report of Initial Treatment). Note that employees usually have to see a medical provider authorized by the employer's insurer.

Workers generally have 90 days following an injury to file for workers' compensation. Workers should be notified whether the claim is accepted within 30 days after the insurer receives the C-4 form. Depending on the case, employees may receive several benefits, including:

  • compensation for lost time
  • medical treatment
  • PPD (permanent partial disability)
  • PTD (permanent total disability)
  • vocational rehabilitation

Damages for a wrongful termination claims

Employees who win a wrongful termination lawsuit after being fired for filing a workers' compensation claim may able to recover the following damages:

  1. lost pay and benefits,
  2. pain and suffering,
  3. punitive damages (if the employer intentionally withheld workers' comp), and/or
  4. reinstatement

The judge may also order that the defendant pay for the plaintiff's attorneys' fees and court costs.

Learn more at the State of Nevada Department of Business & Industry Industrial Relations (DIR) website on Workers' Compensation. Also see NRS 616A through NRS 616D.

About the Author

Neil Shouse

Southern California DUI Defense attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT).

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