After getting injured on the job, you should not have to worry about whether you can be fired for filing workers’ compensation in Georgia, but in reality, this situation does happen to some Georgia workers. It is illegal for your boss to fire you in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim in Georgia, but your employer could find a way to terminate your employment that is legal.
Additionally, it is important to note that Georgia is an at-will employment state. This means that your boss could terminate you at any time—as long as their reason for termination is a legal one. Also, Georgia law does not require your boss to give you notice that you are getting fired. If you have questions about the legality of your termination, a workers’ compensation lawyer can help.
How At-Will Employment Protects Employers
Employers are prohibited from firing a worker out of retaliation for performing a legally protected act, and applying for workers’ compensation benefits is a legally protected act. It is also illegal for an employer to fire a worker because of a disability or on the basis of some other form of prohibited discrimination.
Because your employer does not have to give any reason for firing you due to at-will employment, however, it can be challenging to prove that your boss fired you for filing a workers’ compensation claim. Few employers will directly admit the true reason they got rid of an employee that they no longer wanted to have on their payroll.
Still, you could have a pathway forward. An attorney can review the evidence in your case, investigate your legal options, and advocate for you.
For a free legal consultation, call (404) 888-8888
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Forms of Prohibited Retaliation After an On-the-Job Injury
If a worker developed a job-related illness or got hurt on the job and then filed for workers’ compensation benefits, these retaliatory actions by the employer are prohibited:
- Terminating the worker after they file for benefits
- Terminating the worker immediately after the injury but before they can file for benefits
Please remember, however, that it is illegal to take these actions in retaliation when a worker files for workers’ compensation benefits.
Legal Justifications for Termination
Your boss may try to take legal routes to firing you after an on-the-job injury. For instance, they may claim that you clocked in late recently or were disciplined for poor performance or conduct issues in the past. They may attempt to make other legal justifications.
However, a lawyer could still build evidence to show that the true reason for your termination was a wrongful one.
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Firing You Usually does Not Stop Your Workers’ Compensation Benefits
If you are already receiving workers’ compensation benefits and then get fired, that event usually does not cut off your benefits. In some situations, however, the reason for firing could impact your eligibility for benefits.
Let’s say that a worker returned to light-duty work with fewer hours and received temporary partial benefits to help make up some of the difference between his previous full-time pay and his current part-time income. His boss observed him performing activities that he claimed to be unable to do because of ongoing impairment from his work-related injury. The workers’ compensation benefits could then be terminated.
When the Insurance Company Stops Paying You Benefits
There are many situations in which the workers’ compensation insurance company may suspend, reduce, or stop paying your benefits. The insurance company may take these actions without getting the permission of the State Board of Workers’ Compensation (SBWC).
Here are a few examples of those situations:
- You received the maximum length of payments for your category of benefits, according to the SBWC.
- You got offered to return to work under light-duty restrictions and refused to do so.
- Your approved workers’ compensation doctor released you to return to work without restrictions; in other words, the treating physician said that you have fully healed from your work-related illness or injury.
- You go back to work and earn as much money as before.
- You refuse to participate in the treatment the authorized doctor prescribed for your injury or illness.
In these situations, your workers’ compensation benefits could cease. Also, your employer could terminate your position without giving a reason or any notice.
Contact Bader Scott Injury Lawyers for Help With a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Workers’ compensation claims can be challenging and frustrating to navigate. You do not have to go through this experience on your own or wonder if you can be fired for filing for workers’ compensation in Georgia. Working with a workers’ compensation attorney could be beneficial for your case. When we take care of your legal matters, you get to rest and focus on getting better.
You can call Bader Scott Injury Lawyers today to find out how we can help you. The call is free and comes with no obligation.