Separation Notices

In Georgia, when the employment relationship ends, employers are required to provide departing employees with a separation notice.  Separation notices must be provided if an employee is fired, laid off, or quits. The notice is a one-page form document, DOL Form 800, available on the Georgia Department of Labor (“DOL”) website (https://dol.georgia.gov/documents/separation-notice-individual-dol-800). The employer must provide information such as the reason for separation, dates of employment, and wage information on the separation notice.  If an employee applies for unemployment benefits, they are required to submit the completed Separation Notice to the DOL.

Employers need to be careful about the information included in the separation notice.   The information should be accurate and honest. If an employer provides inaccurate information, the employer could be subject to a monetary penalty and/or imprisonment. Separation notices show up in lawsuits from time to time.  If an employer is sued and wants to defend its termination decision based on the fact that the employee was a poor performer, for example, but the separation notice states another reason like “lack of work”, the employer’s credibility is obviously weakened.

Furthermore, even though most employees are at-will and can be fired at any time with or without cause, an employee cannot be terminated for an illegal reason.  For example, if an employer states on the separation notice that the reason for separation is that the employee “filed a lawsuit against the company complaining about her pay,” that statement may be direct evidence of unlawful retaliation.  An employer can expect to see that statement show up on the first page of a lawsuit against its company.

For more information about DOL Form 800 or how to be legally compliant when conducting terminations and layoffs, contact us!

~Author: Antoinette Trott, 2018 Gate City Bar Summer Associate, Emory University School of Law, 2nd year Law Student