Worker fired after injury can sue for wrongful termination: Court

Jun 9, 2011

The following article was published in Business Insurance Magazine on June 9, 2011:

Worker fired after injury can sue for wrongful termination:  Court

By Roberto Ceniceros

A machine shop employee fired within an hour of reporting an injury, but before he could file a workers compensation claim, can sue his employer for wrongful termination, Ohio’s Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

The 4-3 decision in Sutton vs. Tomco Machining Inc. upholds an appeals court finding and stems from a back injury DeWayne Sutton suffered in April 2008. He had been a Tomco employee for two and a half years when he was fired without being given a reason, court records state.

The Supreme Court’s task included determining whether a state law prohibiting the firing of workers in retaliation for filing workers comp claims also applies to firings that occur after an injury, but before a claim is filed.

Language in the law protecting injured workers leaves a gap between the time they are injured and the time they file a claim, the court majority found. But it also found the state’s General Assembly did not intend to leave a gap allowing employers to retaliate against injured employees.

A minority opinion states, however, that had lawmakers intended for the law to cover the period between an injury and the filing of a claim, it would have been simple for them to include that.

The Supreme Court remanded the case to a trial court to resolve remaining issues.

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