We took a good look at the case in question, which took place in Ohio. In this particular case, a machine shop employee was fired approximately one hour after reporting to his employer that he had received a workplace injury. No reason was given for his termination.
Sound like suspicious timing? We agree...
However, not only did the worker claim workers' compensation benefits; he also filed a "wrongful termination" suit against his employer. The burden of proof for the wrongful termination suit was on the employee (and his workers' compensation attorney). To win the suit, he needed to prove that his firing was in fact retaliation for reporting the injury, and that his employer had no business or work related justification for his termination.
The court's ruling held that the protection of the state's workers' compensation laws was in full effect in this case. Part of workers' compensation law is that an employer cannot punish the employee for having or reporting an injury. Any punishment that comes before the actual injury claim is filed is inappropriate; an obvious attempt to avoid paying benefits. Therefore, the court ruled that the worker does have the right to sue his employer.
But, this case will wind up in the state's Supreme Court, with the worker attempting to prove the only reason for his termination was reporting the injury. We hope he had a good work record, because any lateness, sloppiness, write-ups for previous issues, or other trouble at work could seriously hinder his case.
If this Workers' Compensation case took place in Missouri:
The Missouri Revised Statutes, Chapter 287--Workers' Compensation Law Section 287.780 clearly explains that termination occurring because and employee exercised his/her workers' compensation rights is not only prohibited, but grounds for civil action for damages.
Although each state has their own workers' compensation laws, they do provide similar protections for workers' nationwide. This Ohio case is a perfect example of how even though the law clearly covers work-related injuries, many workers' compensation cases are not as cut and dried as one might hope.
For more information about your rights to compensation for job related injuries, as a Missouri employee, visit the Missouri Department of Labor, Division of Workers' Compensation for more information. You will find their site is written in plain English, and it is easy to understand your rights.
Make sure your rights are protected if you suffer a workplace or otherwise work-related injury; and that you receive all the benefits you are entitled to under Missouri law. These laws are in place to protect you--the worker.
If you have been injured at work, your case might proceed without any hindrance from your employer or their insurance carrier. Most Missouri employers understand and accept their responsibilities to their employees. However, if you are finding any difficulty or confusion about your case, or are having trouble getting benefits or medical treatment, it is always wise to consult with a Missouri Workers' Compensation Lawyer.