Unfortunately, you can be terminated for almost any reason in Georgia, even while out due to injury. You should immediately speak with an attorney to address both your medical issues and the potential impact of termination in your income benefits and claim.
I will be glad to speak with you.
B. Shawn Rhodes
Powers and Rhodes, LLP
Unfortunately, Georgia is a Right to Work state. That means that your company can fire you at any time. I would encourage you to hire an attorney at this point. You will need help with settling your case at some point. As you will not be returning to your job, there is not reason not to settle the case. I am sorry that you lost your job. That is not an uncommon occurrence for people who are out of work because of an on the job injury. Good luck.
This is a very common occurrence in worker's compensation cases. While Georgia is a right to work state, meaning that you can be fired at any time, you may have recourse via wage benefits through worker's comp, unemployment, or perhaps even a personnel policy if you work for the State and such a policy covers your employment. You need to sit down with a worker's comp attorney in your area asap to determine what rights you have, force them to stop jerking you around, and make sure what rights you have are enforced. Right now, as you are unrepresented and new to the process, you are an easy target for being taken advantage of by your employer and their insurance company. They know exactly how to play the game, so you need to know too.
The above information is general in nature. In order to obtain more specific and legal advice upon which to base your important decisions, please contact our office directly for a free phone or in person consultation. Robert M. Gardner, Jr. Hicks, Massey & Gardner, LLP firstname.lastname@example.org 53 W. Candler St. Or 718 Oak St. Winder, Ga. 30680 Gainesville, Georgia (770) 307-4899 (770) 538-0555 gadebtlaw.com hicksmasseyandgardner.com serving metro Atlanta and all of Northeast Georgia Bankruptcy, Divorce, Personal Injury, Worker’s Compensation, Medical Malpractice, Adoption, Civil and Criminal Litigation
You may have some protections as a state employee. I would encourage you to look at your employee handbook. Absent any protections that you may have through contract, you are an at will employee which means that your employment can be terminated, at any time, without providing you with any reason.
Please do not confuse your employment with your Workers' Compensation benefits. They are entirely distinct from one another. Just because your employment was terminated, it does not mean that there is any affect on your Workers' Compensation benefits. I would strongly encourage you to seek the assistance of an experienced local Workers' Compensation attorney.
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It would be hard to give you concrete advice in this forum. The State may have personnel rules that say that after a period of disability you are deemed to have left your employment. You should meet with the HR director for your department about the termination letter. And as my colleagues have suggested, you should talk to a workers comp lawyer as soon as possible.
I suggest you contact a WC atty. right away who will attempt to straighten it out with your employer or else immediately request a hearing. You should not delay and you should not try to handle this on your own.
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Yes, you can be terminated. It's common for a lot of employers to "administratively terminate" employees who have been out of work for a year. It sounds like that is what happened to you. Your work comp benefits are not affected -- you will still have medical treatment and weekly checks (if you were getting those already). Your non-work comp benefits (things like group health insurance) can be affected though by the termination, so you will want to look into that.
Unfortunately you can be fired for any reason unless you are in a protected class. You need to talk to two different types of lawyers - a work comp lawyer for your work comp case and an employment lawyer for the employment issues. I would recommend Bryan Hawkins in Augusta for the work comp case.
Simply stated, you can unfortunately be fired, but there may be repercussions to your employer for doing so. You really could benefit from being represented by an experience WC attorney who could identify the benefits you could be entitled to.
While you can be termination for almost any reason in GA, if you are terminated while on limited duty you can have recourse against your employer. I would suggest calling an experienced workers compensation attorney as soon as you can.
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