South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Firing Workers for Participation in Workers' Compensation Process Violates Public Policy
Description Two at-will workers were dismissed soon after they provided testimony at a workers’ compensation hearing about the injury to another worker. Given the statements they claim were made by supervisors about their participation, they had adequate grounds for a claim of retaliatory discharge in violation of public policy to go to trial.
Topic Employment Law
Key Words Workers Compensation; Public Policy; Retaliatory Discharge
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Tim, Scott and Alan Pietruszynski worked for a construction company. Tim and Alan were called to testify at a workers’ compensation hearing regarding a work injury to Scott. Tim claimed that one of his supervisors said that testifying was not a good idea. Tim and Alan were fired a month after their testimony, despite having been told that there was more work for them in the future. They sued for retaliatory discharge in violation of public policy that favors protection of workers covered by workers’ compensation. The trial court dismissed the suit. Tim and Alan appealed.
Decision

Reversed. Sufficient evidence was alleged for the case to go to trial. While Tim and Alan were at-will employees, firing an employee for participating in the workers’ compensation claim process is against public policy and will support a retaliatory discharge claim.

Citation Pietruszynski v. McClier Corp., --- N.E.2d --- (2003 WL 1562150, Ct. App., Ill., 2003)

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