Georgia is an at-will employment state, which means you can be fired for any reason that is not illegal at any time. This includes while you are receiving workers’ compensation benefits for an injury suffered on the job. The same rule allows you to quit a job without repercussions at any time and without reason.
If you are injured at work, workers’ compensation will likely cover you. According to the State Board of Workers’ Compensation, all employers with three or more employees in Georgia must carry workers’ compensation. However, many employees are afraid to file a claim for fear of losing their job while on workers’ compensation.
Your Employer Must Tell You Why They Are Firing You
Being injured at work can lead to many medical bills and missed work time as you recover. You might not be able to return to work for days, weeks, or even years, depending on the severity of your condition. You might worry about what will happen while you’re gone and upon your return to the workplace.
Will your job still be there? Will your employer replace you? Will you lose your job during the time you’re gone?
Your employer cannot fire you for filing a workers’ compensation claim, but they can terminate you for other reasons while your claim is still open. However, if they do this, they will need to show why they fired you and that it was unrelated to your workers’ compensation claim.
Get the strong arm
How Can My Employer Fire Me During a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
You are probably employed “at will,” which means your employer has the right to terminate your employment for any reason—or no reason. On the flip side, it means you would have the right to quit your job for any reason or no reason.
Reasons other than your workers’ compensation claim that you might lose your job could include:
- Poor or insufficient job performance
- Financial issues in the company unrelated to your performance
- Company restructuring
- If the employer no longer has a use for your job position
These are all legal reasons an “at-will” employee could lose their job. However, it is possible for your employer to feel more inclined to let you go because of your workers’ compensation claim. They would not admit to this, as it is illegal, but it might play a role.
What Would Happen if I Lost My Job While on Workers’ Compensation?
Since you are likely on employment “at-will,” you can lose your job once you return and still receive workers’ compensation. You might assume that a work injury awards you extra protection from being fired, but this is not legally the case. As long as your employer does not fire you for being on workers’ compensation or filing your claim, they have the right to do so.
If your employer fires you while you’re on workers’ compensation and you suspect your claim is the main reason—even if they give another reason—you should immediately contact a workers’ compensation lawyer.
If it’s found that your employer terminated you because you filed a workers’ compensation claim and/or are receiving workers’ compensation benefits, you would have the right to sue them for discrimination.
Retaliatory termination is when an employer fires an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim or reporting that they were injured at work. Most employers will not admit to doing this, and they will especially avoid telling the terminated employee the real reason. They know that revealing you lost your job because of workers’ compensation is grounds for a lawsuit.
This is why contacting a lawyer is important if you believe you might have lost your job due to reporting your work injury or bringing a workers’ compensation claim. A lawyer can help you investigate the situation and gather evidence to show the employer’s discrimination.
What if I Return to Work on Restrictions and Then Lose My Job?
If you are recovering well after your work injury, your doctor may clear you to return to work. You might be given certain restrictions compared to the degree of work you could do before. For example, your doctor may give you a lot of specific activities you shouldn’t do until you fully recover.
When you are still recovering, even if you return to work, your employer may still be paying you workers’ compensation—especially if you were given a different job to accommodate any disabilities. Again, it might seem like these changes give you added protection from losing your job. Unfortunately, you can still get terminated if your employer offers a reason beyond your claim.
If you suspect the reason is related to you being on workers’ compensation and you can prove it, it’s time to consider legal action against your employer. Call John Foy & Associates in Georgia to discuss the situation and build a case in your defense of employment.
What Happens to My Workers’ Compensation Benefits if I Lose My Job?
You might worry about what happens to your benefits if you lose your job while on workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation is meant to provide wages even when you cannot continue working due to your injury. Those benefits allow you to continue paying for living expenses and other costs resulting from your condition.
If you are laid off after you have begun receiving benefits from a workers’ compensation claim, it does not typically affect your legal right to those benefits. Since your injury happened while you worked, you should still be covered until you fully recover.
Once you fully recover, your doctor will give you the clear to return to work, including any restrictions you may have. You can send a copy of your release documents to your employer, who may allow you to return to work. However, you should continue receiving your workers’ compensation benefits even if they do not.
A workers’ compensation lawyer at John Foy & Associates can help you understand the law and build a case on your behalf if you lost your job while receiving workers’ compensation benefits.
Talk to a Workers’ Compensation Attorney for Free Today
A work injury can be stressful in many ways. Besides the pain and costs of the injuries, you have the added worry of losing your job for any reason during the process. If you lose your job after you’ve filed a workers’ compensation claim and suspect your employer let you go because of the claim, contact Georgia workers’ compensation lawyers John Foy & Associates as soon as possible.
Our workers’ compensation lawyers have supported injured workers with their claims for over 20 years. We can help you build a strong claim and ensure you aren’t taken advantage of at any point during the process. To schedule a FREE consultation with the best lawyer for your case, call us or contact us online to get started today.