A new decision from the Missouri Supreme Court will make it easier for employees to succeed in a claim of workers’ compensation retaliation.
According to the ruling, an employee need only show that the filing of the claim was a contributory factor in a dismissal or unfavorable job action. Previously, claimants in Missouri needed to prove that a workers’ compensation claim was the sole factor in a negative job action.
The relevant case, Templemire v. W & M Welding, Inc., No. SC93132, was brought by John Templemire, a painter who claimed that his company had fired him in part because of a workers’ compensation claim that he had filed.
The case had been decided in favor of the employer, W & M Welding, both in the lower court and in the Missouri Court of Appeals, on the grounds that Templemire had not shown that his workers’ compensation claim was the exclusive factor in his dismissal.
Templemire appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court, which reversed the decision by finding that the relevant Missouri statutes did not include language requiring that retaliation be the exclusive cause.
For employees who have filed a workers’ compensation claim, here are the basic facts:
- If you have filed a workers’ compensation claim and you believe that your employer terminated you, demoted you or took other unfavorable action against you in part because of the claim you filed, you may have cause for legal action.
- You will not need to prove that your workers’ comp claim was the only reason your employer took action against you, or even that it was the main reason your employer took action against you.
- Your employer may now be held accountable for actions undertaken against you with some discriminatory intent.
News sources report that in the Templemire case, witnesses heard Templemire’s manager say, “All you do is sit on your a– and draw my money” just before firing Templemire. In the new trial of this case, that piece of evidence could help show that a workers’ compensation claim contributed to Templemire’s firing, thereby proving his claim of workers’ compensation retaliation.