When injured on the job, either suddenly or slowly over time, many employees can be hesitant to file a workers’ comp claim for fear of losing their job. Many people may try to deal with an injury by taking time off and using their medical insurance to be treated instead of filing a claim. But recovering from a workplace injury may need more time.
In Georgia, most employees have “at-will” employment, meaning employees can be fired for any reason, or for no reason, at any time, including while out on disability or while performing “light duties” at work due to your injury. If you are unsure of your employment situation, you are most likely an “at-will” employee. If you have an employment contract, that is not an “at-will” situation.
It is illegal in Georgia to fire an employee directly for filing a workers’ comp claim. But an employer can fire an employee while a workers’ comp claim is open. Poor work performance, breaking a workplace rule, or disciplinary problems are just a few reasons one can be fired.
TIPS TO AVOID BEING FIRED
To have the best chance of keeping your job during a workers’ comp claim, here are some tips that may help you both when you are out from work and when you return to work.
While out from work and recovering from your injury, you are required to keep your employer up to date on your injury status. Keep an open dialogue with your employer so they are always informed of your situation.
Keep the communication lines open with your employer once you return to work as well. If your doctor has placed you on permanent work restrictions, you must discuss these restrictions with your employer.
Once your doctor gives the okay for you to return to work, go back right away. Don’t miss any more work than you must.
If you return to work in some capacity during your worker’s comp claim, make sure you act respectfully to your employer, all management, and fellow co-workers when back on the job. Be sure to follow all workplace rules, policies, and safety regulations at all times. Do not be tardy – be certain to always start your workday on time. And finally, perform your assigned tasks satisfactorily within your ability.
If you believe you have been discriminated against in your employment in Georgia, or if you think you were fired solely because you filed a workers’ comp claim, you are urged to speak with an attorney at the Fry | Goehring. Call (404) 969-1284 for a free consultation.