Workers' Compensation blog


Can My California Employer Refuse to Let Me Return to Work After an Injury?

On behalf of Mitchell Law Corporation
March 3, 2024

If you have recently been involved in a workers’ compensation claim, you may be asking, “Can my California employer refuse to let me return to work after an injury?” There are several factors to consider if you find yourself in this scenario. A qualified and experienced California workers’ comp attorney can help you explore your options and understand your rights under California state workers’ comp laws.

California Laws

California labor laws dictate that it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against injured workers. This means that, if you feel that your employer has threatened you or refuses to schedule you for work, you may be able to pursue legal action. It is important to engage the help of an experienced attorney to have your case reviewed.

Can my California employer refuse to let me return to work after an injury?

It is critical to understand your rights under California law when returning from a workplace injury.

  • Right to reasonable workplace accommodations. Employees returning from a workplace injury have the right to request reasonable accommodations to work. For a request to be considered reasonable, it generally cannot cause an undue burden on the employer.
  • Right to medical treatment. After returning to work, an employee maintains the right to seek and receive necessary medical attention for their injury.
  • Right to protection against discrimination. It is illegal for California employers to discriminate on the basis of a disability. Employees returning to work from an injury have the right to be treated fairly and should not face retaliation or repercussions.
  • Right to job security. Employees have the right to be reinstated to their previous job or its equivalent after returning from a workplace injury.
  • Right to seek legal representation. It is critical for employees who have experienced a workplace injury to engage the help of legal counsel. An attorney can ensure that they are getting fair treatment. Employees always have the right to legal representation.

Condition Report

The medical examiner or doctor who treats you for your workplace injury or illness will send a report detailing the extent of your condition to a claims administrator. This report will outline your condition and any possible limitations that you may have. The purpose of the report is to protect you from any further injuries if you are able to return to work. There are typically two types of conditions used.

  • Return to work with restrictions. Returning to work with restrictions means that the doctor has cleared the employee to return to work, but the employer must adhere to the restrictions outlined in the report. The employer cannot force the employee to come back to work without complying with the necessary restrictions for the employee.
  • Return to work without restrictions. If the employee is cleared to return to work without restrictions, then the employer is typically required to offer the employee the same job and pay rate that they had before the workplace injury.


Q: What Happens If You Can't Return to Work After an Injury in California?

A: If you can’t return to work after an injury in California, you may be eligible to receive temporary disability benefits or supplemental job displacement benefits. Supplemental job displacement benefits can be received through a voucher.

Once your condition has been declared permanent and stationary, you can then evaluate your ability to return to your normal work duties. Permanent and stationary is a medically declared condition stating that the injured worker’s condition is stabilized and is not likely to improve any further.

Q: What Is the 90-Day Rule for Workers’ Comp in California?

A: The 90-rule for workers’ comp in California requires employers to provide a response to employees regarding their claim within 90 days. Under California state law, employers have the ability to delay a decision on a workers’ comp claim. During this period, employers must provide medical care, but they may not be susceptible to paying temporary workers’ comp until the claim has been resolved. If your claim has been delayed by your employer, they have 90 days to review it and provide a response.

Q: How Long Can a Workers’ Comp Claim Stay Open in California?

A: A workers’ comp claim in California can stay open for as long as it takes for an employee to be released by a medical professional to resume their normal work duties. If an employee returns to work and they are still undergoing medical treatment or can only perform light tasks, then they may still receive workers’ comp benefits. It is not uncommon for the insurance company to request a medical examination from a third party to evaluate the injured workers’ ability to resume their normal work activities.

Q: Can I Sue My Employer for a Workplace Injury in California?

A: You cannot sue your employer for workplace injuries in California. Because employers are required to provide workers’ comp benefits to injured employees under California state law, this typically absolves them from workplace injury claims.

There are, however, a few exceptions to this rule. Some of these include:

  • An injury caused by a third party
  • Intentional misconduct by the employer
  • Toxic or dysfunctional work environment
  • The employer not having any workers’ comp insurance

If your case has any of these circumstances, then you may be eligible to pursue legal action.

Attorneys On Your Side

Any time there is a problem between an employee and the employer, it can lead to an uncomfortable situation. California workers’ compensation can be difficult to understand, and it can be even more difficult to navigate through the complexities of the California state legal system without the help of qualified legal attorneys. It is important for individuals who are going through a workers’ comp issue to contact an experienced workers’ comp attorney immediately.

The attorneys at Mitchell Law Corporation understand the California workers’ comp laws, and we have a history of helping employees get the fair and equitable resolutions they deserve. We can help educate and inform people about the rights they have under California state law. It is important that employers are held accountable for their actions. Contact one of our offices today to see how our legal team can assist you in getting the resolution you deserve.

Related Posts

Understanding the DWC-1 Form in a Los Angeles Work Comp Claim
Can My California Employer Refuse to Let Me Return to Work After an Injury?

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