Complicated Termination Issue - TX

I have an employee that was injured and filed a WC claim two weeks ago. He is a RTW, with restrictions. He believes that his restrictions will be lifted at his appointment tomorrow.

We just found out right now that he used our company gas card to put gas in his wife's car today. He admitted to the theft once he realized he was caught.

We want to terminate him, as we state in our policy that the ee is grounds for termination. If we terminate him before he gets a full release, we will owe him benefits.

If he gets released tomorrow, then we can terminate and not worry, but does anyone have any ideas on how to handle this issue if he doesn't get the full medical release tomorrow?

We don't want to keep a thief on, but see little room to terminate if we will have to pay him benefits.



  • 3 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • I do not practice in TX, but think it is a good idea to get ahold of a good lawyer to answer this one. You don't want to make exceptions to your theft policy -- also you may have an out under state law that prohibits an employee from collecting benefits if terminated for cause (i.e., theft). Check with a lawyer.
  • If you terminate him prior to being medically released, it is my understanding that in Texas, WC will continue to pay lost wages until such time as he is medically released.  Lost wages are usually a percentage of full wages.

    The question is would you rather have a larger lost wages claim through WC or continue to pay through payroll. You might check with your WC insurance broker to see which hurts more. I would suspect the larger claim rather than the larger wages. 

    Also if you terminate him, there is a large chance that his claim will not get handled efficiently since he has no real reason to make it happen. On one hand, WC is paying him a wage as long as the claim is open...on the other the employer has terminated him with no further wages once the claim is closed.  I had one that the dr stated he should RTW with modified duty, he refused, we terminated and he went back, reopened the claim and $40k later, it is finally closed.

    Personally, I would put him on "paid administrative leave" until you hear tomorrow on whether he is fully released. Waiting that one day might help make your decision for you.

    You also have to be a tad bit careful on retaliation for using a protected benefit. Make sure that you would have terminated ANY employee who used a company gas card for personal use without prior approval.


  • I would be careful about making the timing of a termination decision based on WC status. Attorney for the plaintiff will love you if she finds out you did.

    You have a policy in place and the policy was broken.  When that policy is broken by people who are not on WC, what do you do?  Whatever that is, do that.  Taking WC status into consideration can not lead anywhere good if anybody finds out.  The potential legal challenge would certainly have a higher end cost to the Company than another dork milking the WC system.

    Consider going the non-subscriber route.  PM me for a referral to a law firm that has an excellent program if you want to investigate that route.  Many of the pitfalls of the WC system go out the window and employees often get better care on top of that.  If you have clients that want to see WC certs, you can normally resolve that issue or run a dual system if you are big enough (or have high enough WC premiums) to merit the administrative overhead required to do that.

Sign In or Register to comment.