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Fired Due to Hand Injury
It is no myth. California workers are fired all too frequently from their jobs due to injuries, including hand injuries. Nonetheless, firing a worker because of his or her injury is unlawful. So, if you are fired due to an injury, you have recourse.The Fair Employment and Housing Act
While similar to the federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. sections 12101 et seq., the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) (California Government Code section 12900 et seq.), California’s preeminent antidiscrimination law, is more employee friendly. FEHA prohibits discrimination and harassment in the workplace based several personal characteristics, including physical disabilities. A hand injury can be a Physical Disability under FEHA if it makes it more difficult for you to work or temporarily prevents you from working. If you are fired due to an injury, you may be entitled to compensation and other remedies. Below are a couple of your options on how to proceed.California Department of Fair Housing and Employment (DFEH)
You can file a discrimination complaint with the DFEH. The DFEH will evaluate the allegations in your complaint and determine whether laws the agency enforces may have been violated. The DFEH has the authority to, and in some instances will, file a lawsuit on your behalf in a court of law if it believes there is reasonable cause.Employment Attorneys
Rather than rely on a busy government agency to assert your rights, your better option is to retain an experienced employment attorney, like the experienced and caring attorneys at Kokozian Law Firm, APC. Competent employment attorneys limit their caseloads, so they have the resources necessary to vigorously prosecute your claim. The attorneys at Kokozian Law Firm, APC represent people exclusively on contingency, meaning you do not pay us any money up front, and we get paid only if you get paid.How A Hand Injury Can Lead To You Being Fired
As discussed, it is unlawful to fire someone due to an injury. So why then does it happen so often? Illustrated below is the kind of situation that leads to someone getting fired due to a hand injury. Wrist injuries are common hand injuries. The wrist consists of a delicate network of bone, muscle, tendons, and ligaments. While offering flexibility, the complexity of the wrist makes it susceptible to trauma injuries and injuries occurring over time. Carpal tunnel syndrome affects the wrists of as much as six percent of the adult population.
You have been working for a company for the past two years. The pay is good, but the work environment could be better. You do a fair amount of typing on a computer keyboard at work. You also spend a fair amount of time typing on your laptop at home.
You report to your boss that your hands hurt
You’ve mentioned to your boss a couple times over the past few months that your hands hurt—especially your wrists. Your boss told you to go out and buy a wrist support or pain relief cream. Your boss suggests that your hands hurt because of something you did at home.
You take time off work because your hands hurt
Later you tell your boss that your hands are in a lot of pain, and you need a week off from work. Your boss says you cannot take time off from work unless you get a doctor’s note saying you need time off. You go to your doctor. Your doctor diagnoses you with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Your doctor gives you a note taking you off work for a month. You text the note to your boss.
You are fired
You come in the following week to pick up your paycheck for the previous pay period. Your boss says you are fired. She says your work has been subpar lately and she has contemplated firing you for some time. You think this is odd, given she has never complained about your performance before. She insists you sign a severance agreement before she can mail out your last paycheck. For an extra two weeks’ pay, the severance agreement releases your employer of any claim you may have against it. You refuse to sign the severance agreement and insist you be given your final paycheck today. Your boss says she cannot give you your final paycheck today, the office is closing early for staff training. You leave, frustrated, and upset. When your final paycheck arrives in the mail, your paystub shows a $288 deduction from your pay for “restocking” the uniforms you were required to wear while on duty.
Violation of workers’ compensation law
Your employer may have violated California worker compensation law. It is unlawful to discriminate against an employee for being injured on the job, filing a workers' compensation claim, or participating in the workers' compensation system. Your hand injury was caused by or made worse by your work. What you told your boss about your injury was sufficient to place your employer on notice that you may have a work injury. Your employer was obligated to give you a Workers’ Compensation Claim Form (DWC 1) to fill out and return. Your employer did not do that. Instead, your employer told you to buy a brace or pain cream, items you may have been entitled to free of charge through worker’s compensation along with medical treatment and money benefits. Your employer unlawfully deprived you of that opportunity. Every California employer must have workers' compensation insurance and comply with workers' compensation law. The Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Workers Compensation administers California's workers' compensation law and provides helpful information on its web site. Its guidebook for injured workers is available at https://www.dir.ca.gov/dwc/InjuredWorker.htm.
Violation of antidiscrimination law
Your employer may have violated California antidiscrimination law, including FEHA, by terminating you because of your injury. Your injury constituted a physical disability as it made it more difficult for you to work and later temporarily prevented you from working.
Failure to pay wages when due
Your employer may also have violated California Labor Code section 201 by failing to pay wages when due. When you are fired, your wages earned and unpaid at the time of your firing are due and payable immediately.
Taking some of your wages
Finally, your employer may have violated California Labor Code section 221 by deducting the uniform restocking fee from your wages. Your employer was unlawfully spreading part of its cost of doing business to you.
If your employer has fired you from your job due to a hand injury or another type of injury, or if your employer or former employer has otherwise violated your rights under California law, call the experienced employment attorneys at Kokozian Law Firm, APC or Contact Us via our online form.