Your employer does not have the right to terminate your employment in Missouri simply because you’ve exercised your legal right to file a workers’ compensation claim.
If you’ve been injured in the workplace and have filed a workers compensation claim, it might not make your employer the happiest company in the world. It can lead to bad PR for them, and they might have to pay out damages. However, it’s illegal for a company to retaliate against you for exercising your legal right to file a workers’ compensation claim. Unfortunately, it still happens. Here’s what you should know and what you can do if you have been wrongfully terminated after filing a workers’ compensation claim.
Missouri Protects Against Wrongful Termination
The Missouri Workers Compensation law clearly states:
“No employer or agent shall discharge or in any way discriminate against any employee for exercising any of his rights under this chapter. Any employee who has been discharged or discriminated against shall have a civil action for damages against his employer.”Section 287.780 of the Missouri Workers’ Compensation Law
In plain English, you cannot be fired for filing a workers’ compensation claim. Unfortunately, some companies do just that to try and brush trouble under the rug. Some employees hesitate to report injuries for exactly this reason, and they don’t get the medical care they need for fear of workers compensation retaliation.
What To Do If You Have Been Wrongfully Terminated
If your employer fired you after you filed a workers compensation claim, you might have grounds for a lawsuit. To successfully bring a claim against your employer, you must prove:
- You were employed at the company before your injury
- You filed a workers comp claim after the injury occurred
- You were subsequently terminated or discriminated against
- You were terminated or discriminated against because of the claim
The last point can be the trickiest one to make. An employer might claim they fired you for another reason.
This is why documenting every step of a workers’ comp injury is so important. Ideally, you should have copies in writing of you notifying the employer and your supervisor about the injury. If your employer claims you were fired for taking too much vacation time, and you can prove other employees took the same amount of time without termination, that could help your case. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you fight a wrongful termination claim.
Understanding At-Will Employment in Missouri
Missouri has an employment-at-will doctrine. Unless there is a prior work contract, either the employee or employer can sever the relationship at any time. Missouri has laws protecting against being fired because of age, race, disability, religion, pregnancy, and other conditions. However, because Missouri is an at-will state, your employer can terminate you at any time. To prove your case was a wrongful termination, you will benefit from working with an experienced attorney.
Missouri Workers Compensation Lawyer
The Law Office of James M. Hoffmann has over 30 years of experience protecting the right of injured workers throughout the state of Missouri and litigating wrongful termination cases. For a free consultation, give us a call at (314) 361-4300.
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