Does Workers’ Compensation Affect Future Employment?
Returning to work after an injury or illness is a stressful experience, particularly for those dealing with the workers’ comp system. We want to make it clear—it’s illegal for a future employer to deny you a job due to a previous workers’ compensation claim. However, that doesn’t mean that all employers are honest.
If your former employer fought to deny your workers’ compensation benefits or they discouraged making a claim, you might be worried about what you should reveal to a potential employer, how you can explain your employment gap, and how your claim will affect your future employment.
We’ll explain different ways that workers’ compensation can affect your future employment and what you can do.
Your Rights: Applying for a Job After a Workers’ Comp Claim
First, it’s crucial to understand your rights regarding your workers’ comp history.
An employer cannot:
- Ask you about mental or physical disabilities;
- Ask you about any health conditions;
- Ask about your previous workers’ compensation claims;
- Refuse to hire you due to a disabling condition or previous injury
An employer can:
- Ask if you can fulfill the position’s job-related functions
- Require a psychological or medical exam if they make a job offer AND:
- It’s necessary for business and job-related functions.
- All other employees with the same duties are required to take the exams.
Understanding your rights during the application and hiring process is essential, especially about questions regarding your workers’ comp history or work-related injuries. However, you should also understand that your previous workers’ compensation claim might come up down the road.
Can New Employers See My Previous Workers’ Comp Claim?
While a potential employer cannot legally screen you for a prior workers’ comp claim, they can perform a background check. And although the initial claim is not a public record, an appealed claim is—so what can the potential employer see?
A background check may reveal prior claims that were denied and made it to the appeals board. It may also show any legal actions taken against your former employer. An employer can access your workers’ comp records through the WCAB only if the injury would affect your ability to perform the job duties required by the position.
A future employer can see your workers’ comp claims after they offer you the job; however, it’s illegal for them to rescind that job offer based on increased insurance premiums or fears of future injury. The withdrawal of a job offer based on those two factors is hiring discrimination and grounds for a lawsuit.
Can I Work While Making a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
You can continue working while receiving workers’ compensation benefits; however, if your primary treating physician (PTP) gives you restrictions, both you and your employer must respect them.
For example, your PTP may put limits on the hours you can work, the weight you can lift, duties you can perform, etc. Or they might state that you cannot work at all while your injury heals. If your employer cannot accommodate all of your restrictions, you will be unable to work until your PTP lifts or modifies them.
What If I Have Multiple Jobs Or Find a New One?
Every job you work must honor your PTP’s work restrictions. If only one can accommodate them, you’ll only be able to work that job until your PTP modifies or lifts the restrictions that they cannot work with.
If it’s impossible to keep working your job based on your PTP’s restrictions, you can look for a new one that can accommodate them. However, it’s possible that it can impact your workers’ comp benefits, and you should discuss your options with a workers’ comp attorney.
Will Continuing to Work Hurt My Workers’ Comp Case?
If you and your employer honor your work restrictions, continuing to work won’t hurt your claim. You should always follow your PTP’s advice and listen to your body. Your health comes first. If you believe that your employer or PTP is pushing you to go back to work before your body is ready, a workers’ comp attorney can help you find a new PTP that will have your best interests at heart.
Don’t Limit Your Future Employment Opportunities: File Your Claim Right
Most employers know that workers’ comp insurance is a standard expense and that it’s in place to protect everyone involved in an incident. If you have a previous claim, prospective employers shouldn’t hold it against you. Most of the time, having a workers’ comp claim won’t limit your future employment opportunities.
However, you can take some steps when filing your claim and applying for new jobs to help increase your appeal to new employers:
- No matter your feelings about your previous employer, when you file a workers’ compensation claim, you should never personally attack their integrity or reputation. Negative or vindictive remarks or actions during the process can work against you when searching for new employment.
- Be honest with your claims. Don’t make overly emotional statements or exaggerations to your employer, medical provider, claims adjuster, etc.—stick to the facts.
- When applying for new jobs, only apply for work that your medical provider cleared you for, and be honest about your ability to perform the required job duties. If you weren’t cleared for your assigned duties or withheld information, it might negatively impact your future job prospects.
Worried About Future Employment? Work With an Orange County Workers’ Comp Attorney
While discrimination is illegal, some employers don’t like to see workers’ compensation claims. When you’re considering filing a workers’ comp claim, it’s understandable to be concerned about how it might affect your future employment.
Related: Most Common Workplace Injuries
The best way to ensure that a workers’ compensation claim doesn’t negatively impact your future employment opportunities is by working with a workers’ comp attorney. At Invictus Law, we can help you navigate the workers’ comp system and help you ensure that your record doesn’t affect your future employment.
Need to file a workers’ compensation claim and worried about how it will affect your future employment opportunities? Contact your local Orange County workers’ comp attorneys at Invictus Law today and see how we can help.