If you’ve been injured on the job in the state of Georgia, you have the right to seek medical attention at no expense to you through the workers’ compensation system. Workers’ compensation also provides several protections for injured workers in order to prevent their employers from retaliating against them for filing claims. This includes your work schedule—some employers may try to reduce an injured party’s work hours after filing a workers’ compensation claim as retaliation for the claim in the first place.
In the state of Georgia, employers are forbidden from terminating or penalizing employees by removing hours of workers who have filed compensation claims for reasons related to their claim. However, they are not forbidden from firing them for non-related reasons, such as workplace performance, attendance, or conduct. Employers sometimes try to use these excuses as reasons to justify firing an injured worker, which can sometimes lead to wrongful termination lawsuits.
Let’s look at a sample case. Say you work in a restaurant and slip on a water spill in the kitchen and injure your leg. You immediately go to your employer and report the injury, your claim is accepted, and you come back about two months later once everything has fully recovered. However, when you’re cleared to return, your weekly hours are cut in half. You’ve never been disciplined for poor performance or bad conduct and in fact you’ve been recognized as “Employee of the Month” before on a few occasions. You also seem to be the only person who has had their hours cut—everyone else continues to work their regular shifts.
In this instance, it’s plausible to think you may be the victim of discrimination from your employer because you filed that workers’ compensation claim. The laws say you can’t face consequences for filing a workers’ compensation claim, such as a demotion, cut in pay, termination, or other discipline. However, your employer also has the right to change their operation procedures however they may see fit, provided they are made as a business decision and not out of retaliation.
This is where things could get tricky. You could bring a lawsuit against your employer for discrimination, but you’d have to be able to effectively prove that your reduced hours are retaliation for your injury claim, and not a business-based decision. Because this can be difficult to do, it’s strongly advised you speak with an Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer about your case and let them help you sort through the evidence in a way that will help you obtain the best possible outcome.Injured at work? Call The Law Offices of Nathaniel F. Hansford today at (770) 629-9321 to request a free case evaluation and review your legal options.