South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Firing Worker in Retaliation for Filing for Compensation Benefits Illegal at Any Time
Description The Alabama high court held that under the workers' compensation statute it was illegal for an employer to fire a worker for filing for benefits, which meant that the cause of action existed whether the worker filed for benefits before or after being terminated.
Topic Employment Law
Key Words Workers' Compensation; Benefits; Termination; Retaliation
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Vickers suffered an injury when he fell down a flight of stairs at work. Eight days later he was fired. After that, he filed for workers' compensation benefits. He also sued his employer contending that he had been terminated in retaliation for his workers' compensation benefits claim. The employer moved to dismiss the suit, contending that Vickers had no grounds since he was fired before he sought benefits. The district court denied the employer's motion; the employer appealed.
Decision

Affirmed. The workers' compensation statute provides that no employee shall be terminated by an employer solely because the employee has maintained an action against the employer to recover workers' compensation benefits. The statute does not require that the employee begin the process of seeking benefits before the protection takes effect. It is to be determined at trial if the employer discharged Vickers because of workers' compensation benefits.

Citation Hexcel Decatur, Inc. v. Vickers, ---So.2d--- (2005 WL 435137, Sup. Ct., Ala., 2005)

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