Your employer cannot fire you for filing a workers’ compensation claim in Indiana. However, Indiana is an at-will state for employment. That means that employers can fire employees at any time without cause so long as the reason does not fall under a protected class or reason.
Workplace injuries put you into a protected class. As long as you follow protocol in filing your claim, your employer cannot fire you for doing so.
That’s not to say that the employer can’t fire you for failing to return to work when your doctor clears you. Or that the employer can’t fire you for not showing up to work without any notification of a workplace injury that prevents you from attending work as normal.
Understanding what at-will employment is and how it impacts your employment rights is important in protecting your job and your rights. Here’s what you need to know.
What Does At-will Employment Mean in Indiana?
Employment at will means that you and your employer agree that either one of you can terminate your employment relationship for any reason and at any time. It’s a benefit for both you and your employer in many senses.
However, it does not allow an employer to retaliate against you for serving as a whistleblower, being part of a protected class or filing for workers’ compensation benefits after being injured on the job.
The following are federally protected classes, which means your employer cannot fire you or discriminate against you based on the following characteristics.
- National origin
- Genetic information
- Sexual orientation
- Gender identity
- Physical or mental disability
- Veteran status
Process for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Indiana
To avoid dismissal from your job during a workers’ compensation claim, you must follow all protocols carefully. Failing to do so could give your employer a reason to let you go from your job.
Here’s the process for filing a workers’ compensation claim in Indiana.
1. Seek medical attention immediately
Get the medical attention you need as soon as possible. This might mean leaving your place of employment via ambulance, or it might mean getting to urgent care later in the day when you suspect you’ve suffered a concussion due to a workplace accident. This is essential to begin the claim process because it validates and proves your injury. Be aware that once your claim is underway, you’ll need to see a doctor that your employer selects.
2. Notify your employer
This is another essential part of protecting your employment in Indiana. Your employer needs a formal written notice of your injury. This will protect your workers’ compensation claim and prevent you from potentially losing your job.
When completing this process, be sure to put a read receipt on the notification so you know when they view the notice and have proof of it in case you need it during the claim.
3. The employer files an Employer’s Report of Injury form
Once the employer receives the written notification, it has 7 days to complete an Employer’s Report of Injury form and send it to the insurer. You should receive a copy of this form during the process. If you don’t get it within 7 days, you should ask your employer about the form and when they will file it.
4. Receive a decision from the insurance company
The insurance company will then review your claim and report its decision about the claim and provide details on when you’ll begin receiving benefits.
If you receive a claim denial, you can file an appeal. You’ll want to do this as soon as possible.
Protecting your employment is an essential element of timely workers’ compensation claim notification and filing. To make sure you’re completing the process correctly, schedule a free consultation with Stewart & Stewart.