Excellent decision by the Federal District Court in Tennessee. Apparently, the employer hired plaintiff despite their undocumented status. This was not a problem until the worker suffered an on the job injury and had to hire legal counsel-at which time the employer/defendant suddenly decided to fire the injured worker-claiming it was because of their undocumented status and not because they were seeking comp benefits. The Federal Court easily saw through this claim and is allowing the injured worker to proceed with their retaliatory discharge case (which they won).
In Alabama, your employer cannot fire you solely because you have reported and sought workers’ compensation benefits related to a job injury. If you believe that you have been terminated solely because you sought workers’ compensation benefits, then you may have a wrongful termination/retaliatory discharge claim.
In order for an injured worker to establish a prima facie case of wrongful termination claim, the injured employee must show: 1) an employment relationship, 2) an on-the-job injury, 3) knowledge on the part of the employer of the on-the-job injury, and 4) subsequent termination of employment based solely upon the employee’s on-the-job injury and the filing of a workers’ compensation claim.” See Alabama Power Co. v. Aldridge, 854 So.2d 554, 566 (Ala. 2002). Generally, points (1) – (3) are easy to show; the case hinges on point (4)-proving that the firing was solely due to the injured employee’s workers’ compensation claim.
Evidence that the termination was the result of the worker seeking compensation benefits is generally shown through circumstantial evidence, as an employer is not wont to admit that they fired the worker for seeking these benefits. The following factors are considered in considering the real reasons why an injured worker was fired: (1) knowledge of the compensation claim by those making the decision on termination, (2) expression of a negative attitude toward the employee’s injured condition, (3) failure to adhere to established company policy, (4) discriminatory treatment in comparison to similarly situated employees, (5) sudden changes in an employee’s work performance evaluations following a workers’ compensation claim, (6) evidence that the stated reason for the discharge was false and (6) the court will look at the proximity of time between the filing of a workers’ compensation claim and the discharge.
“Once a plaintiff in a retaliatory discharge action has established a prima facie case, the burden shifts to the employer to adduce substantial evidence of a legitimate reason for the discharge.”
If you were terminated after suffering a job injury and requesting workers’ compensation benefits, and you have questions about a potential wrongful termination claim, the experienced Alabama Job Injury Attorneys of Powell and Denny would be happy to speak with you and meet with you for a Free Consultation.
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