You may be aware that when you are injured at work you are entitled to receive benefits under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. However, if you are injured at work and then lose your job for some other reason, you may be unsure of your rights when it comes to receiving workers’ compensation. Fortunately, a recently decided case confirms that you are still entitled to receive compensation, even if you are fired for good cause.
Man Seeks Workers’ Compensation From Wal-Mart
In Matuszczak v. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, Mr. Matuszczak sought workers’ compensation benefits from Wal-Mart. An arbitrator initially awarded him benefits after determining that he sustained accidental injuries that arose out of and in the course of his employment at Wal-Mart. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (Commission) affirmed most of that award but vacated a part of the award dealing with temporary total disability (TTD) benefits. The DuPage County Circuit Court reinstated the TTD award. Wal-Mart argued on appeal that Matuszczak should not receive TTD benefits for any time period after June 12, 2011 because on that date he was fired for cause.
Being Fired for Cause Does Not Limit Workers’ Compensation Rights
When Wal-Mart fired Matuszczak he wrote a statement admitting that he had stolen cigarettes from Wal-Mart on multiple occasions. This led to his termination. At the time he was fired, he was working under a light duty restriction due to his work injury. After being fired he looked for a new job he could do with his light-duty restriction but was not immediately successful. Wal-Mart argued on appeal that the Commission should be allowed to use its discretion to deny Matuszczak TTD benefits under these circumstances.
The appellate court disagreed. It cited a decision of the Illinois Supreme Court, Interstate Scaffolding, which says two important things: (1) the automatic denial of TTD benefits to an injured employee when the employee has been discharged by the employer is prohibited, and (2) an employer’s TTD obligation continues until the employee’s medical condition has stabilized. The appellate court interpreted these holdings to mean that even in a case of for-cause dismissal like Matuszczak’s, an employee cannot be denied TTD benefits.
Call Bizzieri Law Offices
When you are injured at work, it can seem like everyone is working against you. This is especially true if you ultimately lose your job. If this happens to you, you will need the help of experienced Summit workers’ compensation lawyers. Call the attorneys at Bizzieri Law Offices and we can schedule a free consultation. You can reach us today at (773)881-9000.
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