This is a very common question that we hear every week. Unfortunately for you, the general answer is yes. Iowa is what is called an employee-at-will state which means that in most circumstances your employer can fire you after a work injury. Keep in mind that there are some laws that protect you. For example, the ADA- American with Disabilities Act, Iowa public policy laws and the FMLA- Family Medical Leave Act. Also, if you are a union member, you may have additional protection if something bad happens to your job (ie. you are fired or demoted) and you should immediately consult your union and file a grievance as you may be able to keep your job. If you have an employment contract, then if you are fired you may be able to still collect your wages. Overall, if you can prove that you were fired because you filed a workers’ compensation claim or because of your age, sex, race, religion, disability, etc. then you may have a separate employment law case.
Keep in mind, if your employer does fire you after a work injury it can have a significant impact upon your workers' compensation case by increasing the amount of money you will eventually receive. In the meantime, it may be best to file for unemployment, but it depends upon the circumstances. For example, if the workers' compensation insurance company is going to pay you weekly benefits TTD (temporary total disability) then you should not file for unemployment because Iowa law prohibits you from receiving both TTD and unemployment at the same time. However, if your weekly check is going to stop after your termination, then it may be a good idea to go ahead and file for unemployment. You should consult with a qualified and experienced Iowa workers' compensation lawyer to learn more about whether filing for unemployment is the right thing to do or not. Also, often you will be denied for unemployment if you have had an extended leave from work due to your work injury. Iowa law provides that the unemployment office is supposed to skip 3 or more quarters of your wages if you were off work due to a work related injury. Although, most of the time the unemployment office will just simply deny your case or sometimes say you cannot even file because you do not have enough quarters. Many workers' compensation attorneys will not help you with the unemployment process, but our office will because our main goal is for you to keep an income source and make a financial recovery from your work injury. If you have questions about whether you should file for unemployment in your case then give us a call. There is no risk or obligation and the phone conference is at no cost to you. One of our work injury attorneys would be happy to assist you.