Can You Be Laid off While You’re on Workers’ Comp Leave in Georgia?

Are you collecting work compensation in Georgia? If so, it’s important to recognize that you do not have immunity from termination while you’re collecting benefits. It is a common misconception that employees on workers’ compensation cannot be let go. While it’s true that you cannot be fired solely for filing a claim, being the recipient of workers’ compensation benefits in Georgia does mean you won’t be laid off. Georgia is an “at-will” state, meaning that employees can be let go for nearly any reason as long as their state or federal employment rights are not being violated. 

Knowing how the law pertains to the specifics of your case can help you stay ahead of any unexpected layoffs and make sure your rights are not infringed upon. There are several things that all workers’ compensation recipients in Georgia who’ve been laid off need to know:

Being Laid off Doesn’t Always Mean Your Benefits Will Stop 

Whether or not you can continue collecting benefits after being laid off depends on your specific situation, but you generally shouldn’t expect all your benefits to go away as soon as you get the news. In Georgia, terminated employees that are receiving benefits are usually still entitled to collect what they are owed from their companies, including temporary partial or total disability benefits, permanent partial or total disability benefits, and medical benefits. Once you’ve been awarded and start receiving benefits, they are difficult to stop. However, if you’re fired before you start collecting, it can be easier for your employer to halt your benefits. It usually depends on the specifics of your case.  

When Can Your Benefits Be Halted After Termination? 

Even after you’ve been awarded workers’ compensation in court, it is still possible for you to face termination and/or revocation of benefits, if the situation calls for it. Generally, your benefits are not in jeopardy unless you are found to be more responsible for your workplace injury than previously thought. There are several causes for termination that can result in loss of benefits, including but not necessarily limited to: testing positive for drugs or alcohol after the accident in which you were injured, being guilty or negligence in the workplace or misuse of company equipment that caused the accident to occur, or refusing light duty when your attending physician approves it. If your benefits were halted for a reason other than this and you feel it may have unjust, it’s important to contact your Atlanta workplace injury lawyer immediately and let them know that you feel your rights are being violated.  

Is It Possible to Lose Your Benefits Even If You Aren’t Fired? 

The answer to this question is generally no, but there are scenarios under which employers can stop your benefits immediately and without question. One of the most common of these scenarios is a refusal to do physician-approved light-duty work. “Approved light duty work” essentially means that your doctor has indicated that you have recovered from your injury enough to perform some of your old duties, but not enough to work at full capacity. Under Georgia law, employers can stop payments immediately to employees who refuse to engage in physician-approved light-duty work. 

Contact the Law Offices of Darwin F. Johnson today to learn about disability benefits and workers’ compensation in Georgia.