What do you do if you have an on-the-job injury and you get fired as a result of exercising your benefits under the work comp laws? Well, that’s a violation of the Missouri law. An employer cannot take an adverse employment action against you because you’re making a claim at a work comp, you have a work comp injury, and there many employers, great employers out there who would never think of doing that, but I’ve also encountered numerous times including some current cases where an employer terminates an employee later on because of a work-related injury, and you have a claim, a common law claim, a jury trial, under the Missouri Human Rights Act that prevents that type of retaliatory action. You cannot retaliate against someone for maintaining a comp claim.
There are also potential criminal consequences of not paying you under the comp claim, but let’s stay with this topic. So if that occurs, you need to document that. You need to be clear that there was work within your restrictions. You need to make sure, make clear that your doctor is not disabling you from the job with inappropriate restrictions. You need to make sure that you’re not getting back, you make sure that you are working hard to get back to your job, and if you’re not at maximum medical improvement, you need to communicate with your doctor about when you’re going to get there and what’s going to happen. You need to communicate with your employer about light duty restricted work and other types of things. And you need to do this in writing and make a clear record of why the termination is.
Once the adverse employment action is taken, you have basically 180 days to file or charge a discrimination with the MCHR, Missouri Commission on Human Rights. You also have a common law statute of limitations to file a case, and the jury instruction says that the workers compensation claim has to be a contributing factor in the decision for the employer to terminate you, not the sole factor, that was a change in the Supreme Court case a few years ago.
So, we take these cases, we help employees who have been wrongfully terminated because they’ve exercised their workers compensation claims. And because what are you supposed to do? You get injured on a job. Your only remedy is workers compensation. It’s already cheap enough and already inadequately is going to compensate you and not pay you for any pain and suffering.
If an employer terminates you because of your work injury or because of your workers compensation claim, give us a call. I’m Gary Burger at Burger Law, www.burgerlaw.com. In Missouri I’m at 314-542-2222, Illinois is 618-272-2222, our toll-free number is 866-599-2222. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions. Thank you.