Can You Be Fired While on Workers’ Comp in Colorado?

May 08 2020

What Rights Do I Have Under Colorado Workers’ Compensation Law?

Filing a Workers’ Compensation claim in Colorado often causes anxiety for an injured worker. Although your employer can’t fire you for filing the claim, you may still wonder if he or she will find another excuse to let you go.  At Alverson + O’Brien, we’re here to help you navigate your claim and return to your position once doctors medically clear you to resume activity.

What Are Valid Reasons for Firing an Employee?

Even if you are on Workers’ Compensation, your employer can still fire you if they present valid reasons for the termination. The employer doesn’t even have to give you prior notice of your firing because Colorado is an “employment-at-will” state. Unless you have a clause in your contract that requires advance notice, you can suddenly find yourself out of a job. If the reason for termination is valid, you have very little recourse.

In practice, however, there are some nuances that make a difference. One of those nuances occurs if your contract calls for you to receive a written warning if you commit an offense that is cause for termination.  Discharging an employee without first issuing a warning, in these cases, can give rise to liability.

Examples of actions that are cause for termination of an employee include:

  • Not showing up for work without giving notice or repeatedly showing up late
  • Unethical conduct
  • Personality issues
  • Insubordination and failing to follow orders
  • Lying and stealing
  • Failure of drug or alcohol tests

Firing someone because he or she refuses to break a law is illegal, and so is termination because of sexual, religious, or racial discrimination. If you believe you were fired because of one of these reasons while on disability, you may have a case.

What If My Employer Doesn’t Have a Position for Me When I Am Well Again?

Workers’ Compensation law requires your employer to make reasonable accommodations to you when you return to work from a work-related injury. If you have reached maximum medical improvement, but you are unable to perform your previous duties, your employer may have hired someone else to fill your position. Your employer has rights under Colorado law to fill your job if you cannot perform it in the same capacity as you did previously.

As an injured worker, you should receive disability payments under Colorado Workers’ Compensation until your doctor declares that you have attained maximum medical improvement (MMI). At this point, however, you could legally find yourself out of a job if your employer doesn’t offer you another position.

In these instances, the legality of your employer’s actions can be questioned. Alverson + O’Brien is a law firm that is experienced in handling Colorado Workers’ Compensation claims.  If you believe you have a case, contact us for a consultation today.