by Lindy Z. Kerr, Esq.

Late last week, Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler stated he will not restore unemployment benefits to seasonally unemployed teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, pre-k teachers, landscapers, janitors, crossing guards and others contractually employed within public school systems. The catalyst for the decision is funding. According to the AJC and other news outlets, Georgia owes the federal government more than $700 million for jobless assistance borrowed during the recession. The decision to cut unemployment benefits is one way to cut debt.

The long term effects of this decision remain to be seen, particularly since the school year has just started and Washington has already challenged Georgia’s legal position. However, one long term effect may be an unintended impact on workers’ compensation claims. Affected seasonal workers may be inclined to file a workers’ compensation claim while they are off work and do not have other income coming in. Those with medical only claims may be inclined to file litigation seeking income benefits for the same reason.