The short answer is NO, although you may be intimidated or worried about retaliation if you need to file a workers’ compensation claim, there are a few things you should know if you have been injured in the course of doing your job. When you have had a work-related injury, you should worry first about getting treated and recovered; if your injury results in medical bills, you should be allowed to collect workers’ compensation in order to cover your costs – after all, you were just doing your job.
However, if you are one of the people who fear employer retaliation for filing for workers’ compensation benefits, you are not alone; many people feel that their employer may punish or fire them for trying to claim benefits.
Georgia Law Regarding Employer Retaliation
In Georgia, employers cannot retaliate against or fire any of their employees for filing workers’ compensation claims. Did you know that almost all employees have a right to file for workers’ compensation benefits? If you are injured on the job in Atlanta, Georgia and you fear retaliation from your employer, you can talk to an experienced, knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney at Bader Scott Injury Lawyers.
What Is ‘Retaliation’?
Your employer may be upset that you have asked for compensation for your work-related injuries for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to the fact that they simply don’t want to spend the extra money. In order to punish you for asking for money, your employer might try to retaliate against you; the list below will give you an idea of the kind of harassment or discriminatory behaviors intended to make your work life a little (or a lot) more uncomfortable. Here are some ways an employer may retaliate:
- Changing your position and assigned tasks and responsibilities for no reason
- Cutting your pay or benefits
- Demoting you
- Changing your shifts or hours
- Giving you bad references or negative performance evaluations
- Disciplining you without any adequate reason for doing so
- Denying you promotion(s)
Defining or pinpointing exactly which behaviors or treatment your employer uses as retaliation can be tricky because those things may or may not be warranted or related to your filing the workers’ compensation claim. For example, tasks and responsibilities can change depending on the company’s needs – if those things change, it could have nothing to do with your claim; if you fail to get that promotion you’ve been gunning for, it could be that someone else performs better than you, or someone else interviewed better than you.
Additionally, in order for an action to be deemed retaliatory, you would need to know that the reason for the action was to scare or intimidate you so that you don’t feel safe or secure enough to voice your wants and needs. Workers’ compensation is your right; stand up to get what you deserve.
What If Your Employer Retaliates Against You?
Although employers are forbidden from firing or retaliating against injured employees who decide to file for workers’ compensation, Georgia law does not say anything about firing or retaliating against workers who are getting those benefits. The extremely strong at-will statute in Georgia empowers the employer to terminate any employees who don’t have employment contracts.
Anyone can understand, then, why injured workers might be mentally torn as to whether or not to report an injury to their employer, as doing so may have negative consequences. If, in the course of performing your job duties, you were injured, you may wish to consider filing a claim for workers’ compensation. If you decide to file, your employer must pay any and provide all required benefits, but you could still lose your job. So if you worry that your employer may harass you or discriminate against you for the injuries you sustained while you were doing your job, you should call to talk to the workers’ compensation attorneys at Bader Scott Injury Lawyers today.
What Are Employer Responsibilities?
Employers must follow the rules and requirements set forth by law. In Georgia, the State Board of Workers’ Compensation handles workers’ compensation claims. When an employee is off of work due to a work injury, the employer must keep the job, or a similar position, open for you while you are recovering. You must have a job to return to once your recovery is complete. Your employer cannot require you to return to work until you have clearance to do so from your physician.
A company must provide a safe work environment at all times, and adhere to the safety standards set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Employers need to inspect equipment and properly maintain it to ensure safety. They must also train employees on the use of the equipment and need to supervise work. If the employer is negligent, it could cause a serious accident with injuries or fatalities. Employers are required to report a work injury to the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation. If the employer doesn’t file a claim, you can do so within one year of your injury.
An employer cannot fire you in an attempt to stop you from getting workers’ compensation benefits or filing a claim. Employers may not always agree with a workers’ compensation claim, but they cannot take matters into their own hands and fire the employee. The dispute must be resolved through the workers’ compensation claim process. An employee is generally entitled to workers’ compensation benefits even if he or she is partly responsible for the accident that caused the injury. There may be some circumstances in which a negligent employee will not receive benefits.
Protections for Employees
Generally, employers must follow some rules and regulations regarding workers’ compensation claims. When an employee is out of work due to a work-related injury, the employer is required to keep your job or a similar job open for you. In other words, you will still have a job to return to once you are completely recovered.
Sometimes an employer may think they can terminate an employee to make a workers’ compensation claim go away or as retribution for filing a claim. An employer cannot fire you simply for filing a workers’ compensation claim. In fact, if they were to do so you would be able to file a civil claim against them.
However, you should also keep in mind that your employer can terminate your employment for other reasons. If you have had problems in the past that were documented, your employer may be ready to take action against you for those reasons. However, they would have to show that the reason for termination was not because you filed a workers’ compensation claim.
What Can I Do To Protect Myself?
The best thing you can do to protect yourself against an employer is to document everything. In many of these types of cases, the employer has little or no evidence to back up claims of previous behaviors that would cause someone to be fired. Make sure that you follow up any verbal conversations with an email that outlines the points of discussion. This will document the dates and times of conversations as well as the details that were discussed. Do not allow yourself to get into a verbal or physical altercation because that could certainly be grounds for termination.
If you were hurt on the job, it is usually best not to discuss the matter with other employees. This can make your employer uneasy and create discord between the management and employees. At the same time, talking about the case could cause problems with your claim.
How to Protect Yourself After a Work Injury
As an employee, you are entitled to benefits if you get hurt at work. However, you must follow the proper procedures. You must report the injury to your employer as soon as it occurs. Reporting the incident to your supervisor or human resources department will ensure that the claim gets handled appropriately. Don’t wait to report an injury, because it can be more difficult to prove that you got hurt while you were at work. Visit the doctor or hospital as soon as possible and follow the orders prescribed by the physician. Do not return to work until you get medical approval.
It is also helpful to get guidance from an experienced Atlanta workers’ compensation attorney. Your lawyer understands workers’ compensation cases and will help you through the entire process including filing a claim and working through any problems that may arise. A skilled attorney can mean the difference between a smooth workers’ compensation claim and one that has problems or is denied.
Call Bader Scott Injury Lawyers at 678-562-5595 to discuss the details of your case; the consultation is free, and we can tell you about your rights and you can decide what route or options might work best for you in this case given your current circumstances.