If you were recently injured in a
workplace accident or if you are suffering from an occupational disease, you may be worried
that if you file a workers’ compensation claim, your employer may
decide to fire you out of retaliation.
The reason we decided to dedicate a post to this issue is because it comes
up a lot. Even though Georgia workers are protected under the state’s
workers’ compensation laws, many injured workers hesitate to file
a claim because they worry they’ll lose their jobs.
Can your employer legally fire you for filing a workers’ compensation
claim? Georgia is an at-will employment state, like most states, which
means employers can terminate employees for any reason, except for
discrimination. Firing an employee because he or she files a workers’ compensation
claim would be discrimination.
Most employers know that if they fire an injured employee for filing a
workers’ compensation claim, then that action would make them vulnerable
to an employment discrimination lawsuit. If you file a workers’
compensation claim and you are suddenly terminated, you have every right
to sue your employer for discrimination.
You Are Protected from Discrimination
If you were injured on the job and you’re afraid you’ll be
fired if you file a workers’ compensation claim, don’t be.
There are laws in place that protect you from discrimination, so you shouldn’t
let fear of termination keep you from obtaining the valuable medical care
and benefits that you desperately need.
All too often, injured workers refrain from filing workers’ compensation
claims because they are afraid of employer retaliation. In these scenarios,
injured workers either pay for their medical care out of their pocket,
or they pay the insurance co-pays and deductibles, and they lose weeks,
if not months of income.
In other scenarios, the workers cannot afford quality medical care so they
never receive it. After losing thousands of dollars of income, the injured
worker returns to work without properly treating their injuries, and it’s
all downhill from there.
Upon returning to work, the injured worker can’t help but experience
significant pain and discomfort. Sometimes they lose their job anyway
because their injury keeps them from working. In effect, nothing good
comes out of their failure to file a workers’ compensation claim
and the worker and their family are the ones to suffer.