Alabama law makes it illegal for an employer to fire an employee for maintaining a workers’ compensation claim.
For an employee to establish a claim of retaliatory discharge, the employee must show the existence of an employment relationship, an on the job injury, knowledge of the injury on the part of the employer, and subsequent termination of employment bases solely upon the employee filing a worker’s compensation claim because of the injury. Alabama Power v. Aldridge, 854 So. 2d 554 (Ala. 2002).
Evidence that may be used to show that the termination was solely upon the filing of a worker’s compensation claim may include situations such as the employers knowledge of the claim by those making the decision to terminate, showing negative attitude toward the injury, failure to adhere to company policies, different treatment as compared to other employees in similar situations, sudden changes in the work performance evaluations following a claim for workers’ compensation, or other evidence which shows that the stated reason for the termination was different from the actual reason. This evidence is circumstantial and may, in aggregate, prove that the claim for retaliatory discharge is valid. These factors are not all inclusive, but are some that may be used to show that you have been wrongfully terminated. Once an employee can show this evidence then the employer has to both refute this evidence and show that there was a legitimate reason for firing the employee that does not include termination due to the workers’ compensation claim. Therefore, to file a claim for retaliatory discharge, you must show that the termination was just that, retaliatory. These factors and others may be used separately or together to show a court that you have been wrongfully terminated for filing for a workers’ compensation claim.
This article is meant to be an overview of retaliatory discharge law, and if you have a more specific question, please contact the attorneys at the Nomberg Law Firm (205) 769-4824.