Employers with three or more full-time, part-time, or seasonal employees in Atlanta, Georgia, must have work comp (workers’ compensation). The latter is an insurance policy business owners take out in case of work-related accidents. They use the coverage to offset medical bills and lost wages of the injured worker.
Work comp sounds simple enough that you’d expect every injured worker to get benefits. But this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, the employer, through their insurance provider, can deny a work comp claim. Admittedly, some denials are legit, but others are also based on malice.
Aside from denying claims, an employer may take retaliatory actions against an employee who files a workers’ compensation claim. One of such acts is firing the employee without paying them the deserved benefits. In this article, experienced Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyers look at whether you can get fired for filing a work comp claim. Contact us immediately if you suffer a work-related injury.
What Does Georgia Law Say About Employer Retaliation?
It’s not uncommon for employers to get angry at employees who demand workers’ compensation for a work-related injury or illness. One reason for their anger could be that they do not relish spending the extra money paying your medical bills and time away from work. So, to get back at you for asking for work comp, they may take some discriminatory actions against you.
Some of these actions include:
- Switching your position at work or assigning tasks and responsibilities to you outside your job description
- Demoting you
- Reducing your pay or denying you other benefits like bonuses for vacation
- Changing your shifts or work hours
- Giving you bad references or negative performance evaluation
- Disciplining you without any justified reason
- Denying you promotion
- Making the work environment hostile and unfriendly
- Terminating your employment
While the above appears straightforward enough, it is often hard to pinpoint or establish discriminatory behaviors. This is because such actions may be coincidental and have nothing to do with your work comp claim. So, not getting a promotion you desire doesn’t mean your employer singled you out for asking for compensation. It could be that the other candidate was always better.
Also, Georgia law provides that for an employer’s action to be deemed retaliatory, the employee must know the reason for the move. That is, you must be aware that it is meant to scare or intimate you or make you feel less confident to voice your wants and needs. This is also tricky, as you can’t know the reason for an employer’s action unless they explicitly state it. Our experienced workers’ compensation lawyers in Atlanta can help you interpret your employer’s action.
Can Your Employer Fire You for Filing a Work Comp Claim?
We’ve established that firing you is one form of employer retaliation. So, on the face of it, your employer would be wrong to fire you for filing a work comp claim. However, we must point out that Georgia law does not say anything against employers retaliating or firing employees getting work comp benefits.
Notably, Georgia is an at-will employment state. It means that business owners can hire and terminate your service at will. So, this often scares injured workers from reporting a work-related injury because they are afraid to lose their jobs. However, the facts of the case determine if your termination is legit or wrongful.
Your employer, by law, must pay you benefits for the injuries sustained while carrying out a work function. If your employer fails to give you the settlement and terminates your service before you can return to work, they would have broken the law. They must follow due process if there is a conflict and wait for the State Board of Workers’ Compensation to resolve it.
Thus, if your employer fires you solely for filing a work comp claim, you can take civil action against them. Our Atlanta work comp lawyers can advise you on the steps to take and help you commence the action. However, if your employer pays you workers’ compensation but still terminates your service, you may not have a civil action. A cause of action will only arise if your employer stops your benefits after the sack.
Contact Expert Atlanta Workers’ Comp Attorneys Today!
Getting fired for demanding workers’ compensation is an injustice no employee should stand for. At Atlanta’s Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Coalition, we’ll examine the facts to determine if your sack was in good or bad faith. If it’s the latter, we’ll take the corresponding action and get you your benefits. You can count on our help. So call today to schedule a free case evaluation.