When someone sustains an injury at work, it is common for them to worry about how their employer will react to them filing a workers’ compensation claim. They might fear getting fired, having their hours cut, or losing their employer’s respect. Add this anxiety to medical bills already adding up and time missed from work, and it is easy to become overwhelmed.
The workers’ compensation laws of some states provide explicit protection from retaliation by employers. In Georgia, however, things are a little more complicated.
At-will employment and workers’ compensation
Unfortunately, Georgia does not have a specific rule against retaliation for filing a workers’ comp claim. Georgia law assumes anyone without an employment contract to the contrary is an “at-will” employee, meaning their employer can fire them at any time, for any reason.
Injured workers still have options
Although employers in Georgia can end someone’s employment at any time, they cannot do it for a discriminatory reason. In some cases, an injured worker can argue they were discriminated against for filing a workers’ comp claim.
Alternatively, even if someone loses their job, that does not necessarily mean their workers’ comp benefits will go away. In a Georgia Supreme Court Case, the court held that when an injured worker is cleared to return to work, their employer must either provide suitable work or continue paying temporary total disability benefits.
Limits on protection
Although an employer cannot discriminate against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim, Georgia law does not require them to keep your position available for you to return to it. As we stated above, they can choose to pay workers’ comp benefits rather than let you come back to work.
Georgia workers’ compensation can be complicated. But, workers do not have to face this process alone. An experienced workers’ comp attorney can guide you through the steps that will ensure you get the help you need.