In many instances, the Employer will literally add insult to your work injury by firing you because of your work injury. Unfortunately, the workers’ compensation law does not address the topics of “wrongful termination” or unjust firings. The primary analysis the State Board considers is whether there is suitable employment of the injured worker with relation to the occupational injury. If the answer is “no” or the Employee was fired “because of” the occupational injury, then workers’ compensation should be paid. However, what if the employee gets fired because of a reason “unrelated” to the work injury? The law then places a burden on the injured worker to search for suitable employment within her physical restrictions. If the employee is unable to secure suitable employment after a “diligent and sincere” search for employment, then the presiding judge may infer that the reason for the claimant’s inability to land a job is attributable to her prior work injury. See, Maloney v. Gordon County Farms, 265 Ga. 462 (1995).
This so called “Maloney” burden rests with the claimant. In order to prove he or she is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, a diligent and sincere search for suitable employment must be documented and readily evident for the judge’s consideration. Moreover, the prospective employers must also have knowledge of the claimant’s physical work limitations. In other words, the injured employee must disclose the work restrictions without sabotaging her chances at securing suitable employment. Generally, the workers’ compensation judges will require a detailed log showing:
- where the employee looked for work,
- a list of the people the claimant spoke with in regards to the job search,
- as well as the claimant articulating his or her plan of action.
Conversely, the insurance company will attempt to prove that the injured employee petitioning for benefits did not conduct an adequate job search in hopes that the judge will deny benefits.
If you have been terminated or laid off after you were injured on the job, please call Ramos & Law today for a free consultation.