Georgia Workers’ Compensation Blog, November 2015
Nathan E. Woody, CORALES & WOODY, LLC
AFTER BEING TERMINATED: THE REASONABLE AND DILIGENT JOB SEARCH
Last time we talked about what the law has to say about your termination following a work injury and what benefits or protections may be available to you under Georgia Law. We concluded that people in that situation need to immediately hire a workers’ compensation lawyer to file a claim with the court and try to get benefits through workers’ compensation.
Assuming you followed that advice and now have a lawyer, or you are in the process of getting one, what do you do while you wait for court? The answer for many folks is simple: look for a job.
Unless You Are Completely Restricted From Work, Conduct a “Reasonable and Diligent Job Search.”
There is a series of court decisions in Georgia which tell an injured worker that if you have been terminated from your job after a work injury, even if you have some restrictions or disability related to the injury, you need to be looking for a job. Of course, if a doctor has told you that you should not be working at all, you may not be in a position to look for work. However, Insurance may have its own doctor saying that you can work or other evidence suggesting that you can work. So, you may still find the court eventually asking the question of whether or not you were diligent in looking for a job. Listen, all you can do is all you can do. I encourage clients who are not completely disabled to do their best. Start looking for jobs and filling out applications everywhere you can.
There is No “Right” Answer to the Question of How Much Searching is “Reasonable and Diligent.”
Let your lawyer worry about this one. Georgia law is muddy on this subject. One person looks for a handful of jobs and the court rules that their job search was diligent. Another individual looks for more than a hundred jobs and the court says that they were not diligent in looking for work. Just do the best you can. Of course, it will be harder to look for work if you live in a small town or rural area where there are not many opportunities. Also, finding work can be more difficult depending on the severity of your injury, your educational background, and your work experience. The important thing is that you TRY.
If You Are Looking For a Job After Your Termination, Keep a Daily Journal of Your Search.
The idea here is simple. If you have to go to court in two months, or four months, or six months, your lawyer will need to present the court with EVIDENCE of your job search. This evidence will be: 1) your testimony explaining the things you have done to find work, and 2) a written record which shows dates, times, places, who you talked to, whether or not you interviewed, why they would/would not hire you, etc. The job search journal is crucial to supporting your testimony.
Hopefully, by now, you have again realized that you absolutely must have an attorney to fight for your benefits after your termination. He or she will help navigate the job search requirement. Good luck and please call Corales & Woody if you need more information about your workers’ compensation claim.