Frequently Asked Questions

Can you be fired while on worker’s compensation in South Carolina?

The South Carolina Worker’s Compensation Act is the exclusive remedy for employees that suffer an injury or illness from an accident that occurs at work or in the course of their employment. When an employee files a claim with the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC), the claim is against the employer’s insurance carrier. An employer with four or more full-time or part-time employees must have workers’ compensation insurance.

After filing the workers’ compensation claim, the employee may be under medical advice to stay out of work or perform light duty. They may also receive weekly wage compensation for missed work and benefits for other damages. However, while on workers’ compensation, the employer can fire the employee.

South Carolina is an employment-at-will state. An employee under at-will employment may be fired at any time for any reason or no reason. An employee on workers’ compensation generally is not exempt from termination of their employee at-will. The exception to the rule is a retaliatory discharge.

An employer that fires an employee because they filed a worker’s compensation action has committed a retaliatory discharge. South Carolina prohibits the discharge of an employee solely based on submitting a good faith workers’ compensation claim. While an employee can be fired for any reason or no reason, they cannot be fired in retaliation. The employee has a burden to prove that their termination is retaliatory. The employer may have an affirmative defense for discharging the employee if they can show the employee:

  • Was habitually tardy or absent from work
  • Behaved in a disorderly way at work
  • Was intoxicated at work
  • Embezzled or stole the employer’s property
  • Violated written company policy in which termination is the remedy

If the employer successfully proves their affirmative defense, the discharge of the employee will be upheld.

Other Workers’ Compensation FAQs:

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