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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 11248
Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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I have a micro-business--myself and one full-time employee.

Customer Question

I have a micro-business--myself and one full-time employee. The employee hurt her hand by turning around and hitting it on a table in the workspace (not injured during one of her regular tasks). She has soft-tissue damage, and has not been truly able to work for 4 months as the hand is not healing quickly--she's been directed not to use her hand at all. (The work is a lot of hand-heavy manual labor--measuring and mixing shampoos, lotions, etc. There is no other full-time work that does not require the use of hands.) The employee has been on Worker's Comp for the past 4 months. Having the employee out of commission has been detrimental to the business, as the orders have been backing up because of the loss of manpower.The questions: 1. What are my obligations to keep her as an employee, even when/if her hand heals? 2. If she cannot do the job that she was hired to do due to her injury, can the employee be terminated without consequence?Thanks for any reply!
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 8 months ago.

Hello and thank you for entrusting me to assist you. My name is ***** ***** I will do everything I can to answer your question.

How many total employees does the business have? I very much look forward to helping you on this matter.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
One full-time employee, who is currently out on worker's comp. I did hire another employee part-time after this happened because I needed the help.
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 8 months ago.

Thank you.

The law prohibits employers from taking adverse employment action against an employee because that employee was involved in a workplace accident or because they filed a workers comp claim. However, these things are distinct from terminating an employee because their absence is causing the company to incur hardship. With only one full time employee, no law prohibits an employer from terminating an employee for missing work due to injury or illness. The key is THAT being the reason rather than the fact that the employee was simply involved in an accident at work or filed for workers comp.

Given that 4 months have already passed, it would be extremely hard for this employee to argue that their termination was in retaliation for having a workplace accident or filing for workers comp. If it was your intent to retaliate for those things, you would have fired them right away. In general, when an employee is terminated months after a work-related injury and the employer can demonstrate some sort of hardship by continuing to hold the employee's position, there will not be any legal exposure. Termination under such circumstances falls squarely within the rights of the employer.

I hope that you find this information helpful. Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.

If you do not require any further assistance, please be so kind as to provide a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you. Very best wishes moving forward.

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