When you have been injured on the job, you probably have questions. How can you afford the food, shelter and medical care you need when you cannot work? Will filing for workers’ compensation be enough to cover your medical bills? Will your benefits last long enough for you to recover?

One of the most common worries for people filing for workers’ compensation is whether they will still have a job to return to after their recovery. Can your employer fire you for filing for workers’ compensation benefits?

The law protects your rights.

Your right to file for workers’ compensation after you are injured at work is protected. Virginia law forbids your employer from treating you differently or firing you because you fired a workers’ compensation claim, and you are legally allowed to sue them if they do retaliate against you for filing your claim. Most businesses know that such actions are illegal and that they could be required to pay significant damages if they do fire you because of your claim.

Termination isn’t the only type of retaliation that you are protected from. If your employer demotes you, decreases your pay or cuts you off from advancement opportunities because you filed a claim, it could also be considered illegal discrimination.

Other circumstances could also be considered discrimination.

Your employer may be aware that they cannot fire you because of the claim that you filed, but some employers may try to discriminate against you regardless. If you are unable to work or can only fulfill some of your duties due to disability, for example, they may claim that they have fired you as a result of your inability to do your job. This is also illegal, but could be more difficult to prove.

Don’t let your concerns about retaliation keep you from your benefits.

It is important to file for your benefits as soon as possible because there are deadlines that could impact your claim. If you have concerns that your employer may retaliate, be sure to speak to an attorney about the filing process to ensure that you don’t miss out on your chance to receive the support you deserve.