Burdine & Brown
The Covid-19 Times
In these Covid-19 times, employers seem to be looking for ways to cut their payroll. That means terminating employees, whether a long time worker or not.
While in Georgia, an employee may be terminated for a right reason, a wrong reason or no reason at all, if the employee is working while under disability related to a job injury, termination of employment does not terminate entitlement to receive workers' compensation benefits.
Unfortunately, a termination of employment usually will find the employer issuing a Cobra notice that gives the worker a right to continue medical treatment but they must pay a group medical premium if that was offered to the employee during the course of their employment, but the premiums of such continuance of medical care are far too high for most employees to pay.
Many employers will attempt to hide or mask the true reason for termination of employment in the attempt to eliminate their responsibility under workers' compensation benefits. We try not to let that happen.
One genuine problem is that the employers seems to harass their employee about their job performance. New duties may be heaped upon the worker even though physical/functional abilities for the injured worker are to perform a broad range of duties. These attempts are to frustrate the worker hoping the worker will quit the job. This gives the employer and the workers' compensation insurance company an opportunity of terminating the workers' compensation benefits when the worker quits his/her job.
These type of cases are very difficult in normal times let alone in these difficult times during the Covid-19 pandemic lurking around the corner.
We hope that the Administrative Law Judges that hear these type of cases of termination of employment of a worker while under disability status would be sympathetic to the injured worker and award benefits when the injured worker has been improperly terminated. No doubt this will foster added litigation which will cause delay for the worker and their family in receiving the much needed benefits. Maybe the Corona virus will cause a more sympathetic attitude on the part of the employer/insurer to pay benefits. Only time will tell.