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Can I Be Fired for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim?

When a worker is injured during the course of their work, the first thing they should be focusing on is getting treatment and taking time for proper recovery. If the injury requires time off of work and incurs medical fees, it is very important that a worker be able to collect workers’ compensation benefits to cover these costs. Unfortunately, many Atlanta workers do not file workers’ compensation claims because they are scared of being fired or punished in some other form by their employer. Workers’ compensation, however, is a right for nearly all Atlanta workers who are injured through workplace accidents. if you are an injured worker and are scared of retaliation from your employer for filing a claim, talking to a workers’ compensation attorney who can explain your rights can be a big help.

Employer Retaliation and Georgia Law

According to Georgia law, it is illegal for an employer to fire an employee or commit any other retaliatory actions against workers for filing a workers’ compensation claim. However, this does not necessarily prevent a worker from losing their job because of injuries.

What Constitutes Retaliation

Retaliation is a fairly common form of punishment used by employers who are upset about paying the costs of a workers’ compensation claim. While workers frequently fear being fired in response to filing a claim, retaliation may come in a number of other detrimental forms. There are a number of discriminatory behaviors or harassment that would be considered retaliation including:
  • Unwarranted changes in the employee’s position or responsibilities;
  • Lowering of wages or other adverse wage actions;
  • Demotion;
  • Changes in work shifts or hours;
  • Undeserved poor performance reviews or negative references;
  • Undeserved disciplinary actions;
  • Retaliation against a co-employee for testifying in a workers’ compensation case;
  • Failure to promote; and
  • Other harassment or discriminatory behavior.
What can make retaliation tricky is that an employer may legally take a number of actions that could be considered retaliatory so long as they are warranted and completely unrelated to an injured worker filing a workers’ compensation claim. When they are used as a retaliatory action, they are meant to frighten or prevent the worker from voicing their rights.

What To Do If Your Employer Retaliates

While it is illegal for employers to fire or retaliate in any other way against an injured worker for filing a claim, there are no laws in Georgia preventing them from taking these actions against a worker receiving workers’ compensation benefits. This is because the ‘at-will’ statute in Georgia is particularly strong. At-will employment means the employer, in the absence of an employment contract, may terminate the employee at any time after the first pay period. This can be a difficult position for injured workers to be in as reporting an injury could eventually have negative impacts on their employment. An injured worker cannot be retaliated against for filing a claim and the employer must pay any workers’ compensation benefits that are required. However, a worker may still lose their job. If you fear retaliation in relation to a workplace injury, it is important to speak to a workers’ compensation attorney immediately. Call Workers Compensation Lawyers at 678-504-6565 to talk about the specifics of your case. During your free consultation, our attorneys can help you understand your rights and what the best options are regarding your case. ]]>

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