What happens to my workers’ compensation benefits if my employer terminates or fires me for misconduct?
Minnesota Workers’ Compenation Lawyers
The firing of an injured worker for “cause” rather than “misconduct” can mean the difference between suspending or forfeiting of temporary total disability and temporary partial disability benefits. If an injured worker has been terminated, let go or fired after a work injury typically all of their workers’ compensation benefits will continue. However, there are exceptions for certain wage loss benefits. This will depend on the reason for the termination.
Misconduct and Minnesota Workers’ Compensation
Under Minnesota workers compensation law, misconduct can act as a defense after termination against recommencing temporary total disability benefits. In Minnesota, most employees are employed “at will” and may be terminated by an employer at any time, without advance notice, for any reason, including no reason at all. Not all conduct resulting in termination is misconduct. Therefore, it is necessary to differentiate between termination for cause and for misconduct. A termination for misconduct defense and the extent of the defense depend primarily on an analysis of the employee’s conduct.
The burden of proof is on the employer and insurer to show the injured worker was discharged for misconduct. Misconduct typically falls in one of the three categories:
- Deliberate violations or disregard of standards or behavior
- Carelessness or negligence of such a degree or recurrence as to manifest equal culpability, wrongful intent or evil design
- Intentional and substantial disregard of the employer’s interest or of the employee’s duties and obligations to his employer
If a termination or firing is due to misconduct, and the injured worker has not received temporary total disability benefits in the past, then the injured can still receive temporary total if they can show entitlement. However, if they have received temporary total in the past and they are fired for misconduct, they can never receive temporary total again, ever.
Misconduct is not a bar to temporary partial or permanent total disability benefits. In fact, it is not a bar to any other benefits other than potentially temporary total disability benefits.
Speak with a Minnesota Work Injury Lawyer
Cases with allegations of misconduct are very fact specific. It is important to discuss the fact with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. If you have questions or would like to discuss your worker’s compensation case, contact Jerry Sisk with the Law Office of Thomas Mottaz today for a free, no hassle consultation.
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