As we say on our wage page titled “Under Workman’s Compensation Laws, Can My Employer Retaliate Against Me (See Can Your Employer Retaliate?), if your employer is determined to retaliate against you for filing a workman’s compensation claim, they will often go ahead and fire you even though Missouri workers compensation law allows you to file a lawsuit against them in civil court to win from them damages you suffered because of the retaliation.
It is always better to stand up for your rights and let us fight for your rights to workers compensation benefits than to just let the company roll all over your rights and deny them to you. They should be punished for their discriminatory retaliation against you such as being fired for standing up for your rights to workers compensation benefits. The problem has always been how to prove that the motivation behind their firing you or otherwise discriminating against you was due to their hostility to your standing up for your rights to workman’s compensation benefits.
The law, Section 287.780 of Missouri statutes, prohibits any employer or their agent from “discharg[ing] or in any way discriminat[ing] against any employee for exercising any of his rights under this chapter” of the Missouri Workers’ Compensation Law.” Then it gives you the right to sue your employer for the discriminatory retaliation, in a civil suit separate from your workers compensation claim that we would file for you.
The jury instructions on such discrimination cases had always told juries that before the fired employee could win his discrimination suit the jury had to first find that the employee suing his employer to punish him for exercising his right to demand workman’s compensation benefits had to prove that his firing was motivated only for that reason and for no other. The employer’s attorney convinced the trial judge to use that old jury instruction, while the employee’s attorney said that the jury should be able to find for the employee and against the discriminating employer even if employer’s motivation was only partly due to retaliation against him for exercising his rights to workman’s compensation benefits. The employee argued that such discrimination needed to be proven to be only one among several reasons the employer had for firing the worker, but the trial judge ruled otherwise. Then the employee appealed the trial judge’s ruling.
On April 15, 2014, a majority of Missouri Supreme Court judges decided that the trial judge had been wrong. The court decided the employee suing his employer for discriminatory discharge should have been able to have the jury deciding his case told by the judge that they could find for the employee even if they determined that employer’s retaliation against him for standing up for his rights to workers compensation benefits was only one of several motivations the employer had for singling the guy out for punishment. The Supreme Court case is called Templemire vs. W & M Welding.
Our Missouri Supreme Court said that since the language of the Missouri Workers Compensation Law that gave the employee the right to sue for such discriminatory retaliation against him by his employer never required that such retaliation be the one and only reason for the discharge, it had been wrong for the trial judge to allow the jury to find for the employee only if he could prove it was the sole reason. Being one reason among several contributing to the employer’s discriminatory motivation for retaliating against the worker was held to be sufficient to support a Missouri discrimination claim.
This important decision makes it a little easier for employees to win their cases after being discriminated and retaliated against by their employer for exercising their rights to get workers compensation benefits. Employers who retaliate against their employees who get hurt on the job will almost always use some kind of cover story to justify their discrimination and retaliation against the targeted employee. They will often have Human Resources look back into the employee’s work history and personnel records to pick out some minor little offense or rule violation to justify and cover up the real, main reason they fired or otherwise punished him: for demanding his workman’s compensation rights to benefits.
This Supreme Court decision will makes it easier for the employee to win such employment discrimination cases. Make sure to understand that the employee has no case to sue the employer for discriminating against him after suffering a work injury unless and until the employee has first stood up for his rights by attempting to exercise them by asking for workers compensation benefits. If the employer discriminates and retaliates against their worker hurt on the job simply for having been injured at work but before the employee has made any effort to exercise his rights to workers compensation benefits by demanding them, the victimized worker has no discrimination case to file a lawsuit for retaliatory discharge under Missouri’s Workers Compensation Law.
That is why once you have been hurt at the workplace or elsewhere on the job it is essential for you to stick up for your rights and demand your rights to workers compensation benefits. Tom Hyatt of St. Louis Workers Compensation Center could help you defend yourself against employer retaliation by hearing your story and filing your claim, demanding benefits. Then if your employer retaliates against you after that by harassing you, demoting you, cutting your hours or your pay once you have filed a claim against them, you would have a much better legal case to sue them for discrimination than if you just passively sat by without ever having stood up and demanded your rights to workers compensation benefits. This includes medical treatment benefits, temporary lost wage benefits, and eventually permanent disability benefits.
Mr. Hyatt would not be the one to file your employment discrimination lawsuit, but he could help you create the factual basis for filing such a lawsuit by demanding your rights to benefits before you are discriminated against. Your employer would thus be less likely to fire you once you got a lawyer who demanded your rights to workmen’s compensation benefits, because employer’s discriminatory retaliation would then be so much more obvious and give you a much better right to win a discrimination lawsuit. St. Louis Workers Compensation Center can demand your rights to workmen’s compensation benefits for you and then proceed to enforce them. It all takes time.
In other words, you are always better off being a squeaky wheel and demanding your rights than just sitting by passively. Another reason to hire an attorney to file and fight your claim is to satisfy the time deadline in Missouri law that requires you give your employer prompt notice of your work accident and injury from it. Sticking up for your workmen’s compensation rights always makes it easier both to protect yourself from employer job discrimination while enforcing your rights to full workmans compensation benefits.
Please call us for advice and assistance on any work-related injury suffered on the job in St. Louis County, St. Charles County, Lincoln County, Warren County, Jefferson County, Franklin County, or any counties in eastern Missouri within 100 miles of the greater St. Louis area. All consultations are absolutely free. (See Contact Us).