Can You Be Fired for Filing a Workers Compensation Claim?
If you fear employer retaliation for filing for workers’ compensation, don’t worry — you’re not alone. As a trusted workers’ compensation lawyer near Atlanta, Workers’ Compensation from The Law Offices of Darwin F. Johnson understands that many workers feel that their employer may punish or even fire them for filing. Let’s take a more in-depth look at what employer retaliation entails, as well as what your available recourses are.
What Is Employer Retaliation?
In the Peach State, employers can’t retaliate against or fire any of their employees just for filing workers’ compensation claims—almost all employees have this right. Now, your employer may be upset that you asked for compensation for your work-related injuries for all sorts of reasons, chief of which may be the simple fact that they don’t want to payout. To “punish” you for asking, your employer might try to retaliate. Harassment or discriminatory behaviors that classify as retaliation include the following actions:
- Cutting back your pay or benefits
- Demoting you or changing assigned tasks/responsibilities
- Moving around or decreasing your shifts or hours
- Giving you unfounded negative performance evaluations
- Denying you promotions
- Otherwise taking disciplinary action against you without specific or adequate reason
Pinpointing correctly which behaviors your employer may use as retaliation can be tricky because they may not be at all related to your workers’ compensation claim; after all, assigned tasks and responsibilities change depending on the company’s needs. For example, a restaurant gives fewer hours to an employee who just filed for workers’ compensation due to it being a slow season. Or, an employee who just filed for workers’ compensation doesn’t receive the promotion they were gunning for, even though the employer based the decision solely on candidate performance. In these cases, the employer is not retaliating.
Want to test your knowledge? Take this short quiz about workers’ benefits and employer retaliation’s key concepts:
What Happens if Your Employer Retaliates?
While employers are forbidden from firing or retaliating against an employee because they are filing for workers’ compensation, Georgia law doesn’t say anything about firing or retaliating against workers who are getting the benefits. The at-will statute in Georgia allows the employer to terminate any employee who doesn’t have an employment contract.
It’s understandable why injured workers may hesitate in reporting an injury to their employer, as doing so drums up fear of swift dismissal or otherwise negative consequences. If you suspect you’re subject to employer retaliation as a result of filing for workers’ compensation and need a team of workers comp lawyers in Georgia, contact Workers’ Compensation from the Law Offices of Darwin F. Johnson today!