From the Files of Powell and Denny
In this “From the Files of Powell and Denny” I would like to recount the facts in a wrongful termination claim we handled in Colbert County back in 2010.
Our client lived in Florence, Alabama, but was employed by HiTemp, Inc. in Tuscumbia, AL as a hydraulic press operator. One day while lifting some molds our client felt a pull in their groin and experienced back pain. Our client dutifully notified his supervisor of the incident and ended up being driven to Urgent Care for treatment-where he was taken off work for a week. When he returned to work, the injured worker was limited to light duty work and was told to sweep up the warehouse and was told “not to set the broom down.” A few days later the supervisor asked the injured worker to help a co-worked with some painting; the next day when our client was in the area where painting was taking place, he was fired for putting the broom down.
Fortunately, our client’s injuries ended up healing nicely on their own and no surgery was needed, but he was upset for being fired and he hired our case to look into a wrongful termination claim.
Alabama Code §25-5-11.1 states that “[n]o employee shall be terminated by an employer solely because the employee has instituted or maintained any action against the employer to recover workers’ compensation benefits under this chapter or solely because the employee has filed a written notice of violation of a safety rule….” An employer CANNOT fire you solely because you have reported and sought workers compensation benefits related to a job injury.
Employers will never admit that they fired an injured worker for pursuing workers compensation benefits; the evidence has to be ferreted out during the discovery process after a lawsuit has been filed. In this case, the HiTemp claimed that they had told our client that he was no longer allowed to help his co-worker paint, and that by being in the painting area instead of sweeping the floor, our client was disobeying his instructions. Moreover, in their Answer to the lawsuit we filed, the defendant claimed that our client failed to call in when he missed a day of work, and those were the reasons given for why our client was fired.
During discovery, we found out that our client had not missed any days of work following his job injury and that no one involved ever remembered any conversation where our client was told that he could no longer help paint when requested. Most damning though, the supervisor in question testified that on the date he fired our client, the owner of HiTemp had told him to find our client and fire him. The supervisor did not know whether our client was sweeping the floors or helping paint-he was just told to fire him and the supervisor testified that our client would have been fired regardless of what he was doing.
The defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, arguing that we did not have a valid legal claim, which the trial judge rightly denied and told the defendant that their case did not look good. Shortly afterwards we were able to obtain a nice settlement to our client’s workers’ compensation and wrongful termination cases.
In this case, our client simply suffered some bad pulled muscles, but the injury was not serious and they did not miss time from work. The injuries healed on their own, but the defendant was angry that our client had actually claimed workers’ compensation benefits by requesting medical treatment, and they retaliated against him-which the law does not allow.
If you have suffered a work injury and have questions about your right to Alabama Workers’ Compensation benefits, or if you have been fired after seeking benefits for your job injury, don’t hesitate to contact Powell and Denny and speak with one of the experienced workers compensation and wrongful termination lawyers and schedule a free consultation. Appointments are available in person, or virtually through Zoom for your convenience from wherever you live.
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Powell and Denny have been selected as one of the Best Law Firms by U.S. News and World Report for each of the last 9 years, have been selected as one of Birmingham’s Top Lawyers by B-Metro Magazine for the last 5 years, have been selected by The National Advocates as one of the Top 20 Workers’ Compensation Firms (plaintiffs) and Powell and Denny, P.C.-has been selected as one of the “Best of the Best” law firms by The American Registry.
Mr. Denny is AV rated by Martindale Hubbard (the highest rating possible) and Mr. Powell has been rated as Superior by The National Registry
+ Powell and Denny have successfully represented injured workers from Birmingham, Huntsville, Florence, Muscle Shoals, Tuscumbia, Athens, Decatur, Town Creek Ardmore, Hartselle, Madison, Toney, Scottsboro, Ft. Payne, New Hope, Guntersville, Albertville, Boaz, Ashville, Anniston, Gadsden, Cullman, Jasper, Gardendale, Morris, Kimberly, Centerpoint, Leeds, Tarrant City, Fairfield, Hueytown, Bessemer, Adger, Tuscaloosa, Cordova, Alabaster, Pelham, Harpersville, Opelika, Phenix City, Montgomery, Clanton, Calera, Enterprise, Monroeville, Mobile, Evergreen, Alabaster, Pelham, Trussville and towns and cities in between.
From the Files of Powell and Denny