Chapter 14 retaliatory discharge
Sometimes employers fire an employee because they have been injured on the job or have filed a claim under workers’ compensation. This is illegal under the Missouri workers’ compensation law, and is precisely the type of thing that workers’ compensation laws prohibit. R.S.Mo § 287.780. However, employees need to understand that they must do everything they can to manage their relationship with their employer. It is not a good idea to go in with your chest pumped and start telling the employer how to run their business.
What To Do if You Are Fired After Filing a Workers’ Comp Claim
If the employer fires you after you have filed a claim, you can file a civil action for retaliatory discharge. At trial, this is governed by Missouri Approved Instruction 38.04. It is often better to simply deal with the employer and show the employer that you are genuinely attempting to comply with their wishes. Be respectful and work with a good employer but stand firmly up for your rights. It is not like you have a lot of rights in the first place and it can be hard to prove retaliatory discharge. But if you have the proof, make that claim. Our firm has won these cases. Sometimes, it can add value to the underlying work comp claim. Be careful in settling the work comp claim and keeping the employment claim as well.
Ask why you were fired, find what witnesses will support you, see if there is a history of the employer firing people after injuries, and make sure you do not have other job performance issues supporting termination. You also had to have pursued a work comp claim. If you never told your employer and did not file a claim you cannot show your employer retaliated against you for availing yourself of the work comp system.
Findings and Laws on Workers’ Comp Retaliation Claims
Note that The Missouri legislature just passed a law to make it more difficult. R.S.Mo 287.780 (revised 2017). Senate Bill 66 was passed and requires employees to meet a “motivating factor standard” for workers filing a workers compensation retaliation claim. In 1998, in Crabtree v. Bugby, the Missouri Supreme Court, ruled that for employees to make a compensation retaliation claim, their participation in the worker’s compensation process had to be the exclusive cause of their termination.
However, the Supreme Court overruled this decision in 2014, in Templemire v. W & M Welding, Inc., finding that participation in a comp claim only had to be a contributing factor for the employee’s termination. Senate Bill 43 raises the standard for employment claims, to a motivating factor standard. raises an employer’s intent to a motivating factor standard, once again making it easier for companies to retaliate against employees for filing worker’s compensation claims. The Bill also will overrule the Missouri Supreme Court’s 2015 decision in Greer v. Sysco Foods, which allowed injured workers to continue receiving temporary disability payments, after the company doctor told them they had reached “maximum medical improvement”.
Good retaliatory discharge cases can carry a lot of weight with a jury. Make sure your rights under these claims are protected. Talk to your lawyer about these claims and make sure they are pursued.