While it doesn’t happen often, there are some workers who end up being laid off when in fact they’re within the period of their workers’ compensation leave. What usually happens is a case of bad timing: the company decides to cut costs through workforce reduction and the unlucky worker was in the middle of his or her leave when it happens.
Situations like these become tricky because the legality of the act varies depending on company motive. If it’s found that the company laid the worker off because of the fact that they were receiving workers’ comp, then the action is illegal and the worker has a lot of legal recourse against his or her employer. The reason for this is simple: the law wishes to discourage employers from retaliating against their employees who seek to enjoy their workers’ compensation claims. Otherwise, it would be easy for companies to scare their employees to not take their leaves, unless they want to risk being laid off.
On the other hand, it could be seen as just a case of bad timing, and that the employee would have been laid off regardless of the workplace injury, in which case the company can’t be seen as acting illegally. After all, companies have the prerogative to decide whom to keep and who to retain as workers. Forcing them to keep workers they can’t afford might hurt the company and all the other workers.
Thus, being laid off in the middle of a workers’ compensation leave isn’t automatically illegal. But because this issue is decided on the basis of motive, it’s very important to have lots of proof. A Chicago workers compensation lawyer will most likely know how to determine whether the laying off was done in bad faith and, if so, how to prove it in court.