Switch back to WCC classic look

WorkCompCentral – Workers' Compensation Education, Courses, News and Information

Call or email us anytime
(805) 484-0333
Search Guide
Today is Friday, April 26, 2019 -

Columns

Fish: High Court Upholds Record-Setting Retaliatory Discharge Verdict

  • State: Alabama
  • -  78 views
  • -  0 shares

On March 1, the Alabama Supreme Court issued its opinion regarding the largest retaliatory discharge jury verdict ever recorded in the state.

Mike Fish

Mike Fish

Notable facts from the underlying case are as follows:

  • The employee had a compensable workers’ compensation accident.
  • The authorized doctor assigned work restrictions that could not be accommodated. 
  • The employee was on workers’ compensation leave for four and a half months. 
  • He received temporary total disability during that time period. 
  • While he was out, the employer hired another driver to replace him. 
  • When the employee attempted to return to work, he was told that he was no longer needed. 
  • The employer admitted that it did not follow its own return-to-work policies when it terminated the employee without making an effort at finding another position for him. 
  • The employer was actively looking for drivers during the same time period that the employee was terminated. 
  • Another employee was terminated for the same reason when he attempted to return to work. 
  • In an email, the employer admitted to improperly terminating both employees. 

The employee was allowed to claim lost future earnings even though he was earning more with a new employer at the time of trial. This was because he was able to demonstrate that his higher earnings were due to his working longer hours (936 more per year) as opposed to his earning equal or higher wages.

At the close of the evidence, the jury returned a unanimous verdict in the employee’s favor in the amount of $1,259,451.52 (comprising $314,862.88 in compensatory damages and $944,588.64 in punitive damages).

On appeal, the Alabama Supreme Court affirmed the judgment.

My 2 cents

Employees are certainly not insulated from termination simply because they have filed a workers’ compensation claim. However, employers should proceed with a high degree of caution when considering the termination of a claimant.

At a bare minimum, all applicable handbooks/policies should be thoroughly reviewed, and an attorney who is well versed in such matters should be consulted.

Mike Fish is an attorney with Fish Nelson & Holden LLC, headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama. This entry is republished, with permission, from the firm's Alabama Workers' Comp Blawg.

No Comments

Log in to post a comment

Close


Do not post libelous remarks. You are solely responsible for the postings you input. By posting here you agree to hold harmless and indemnify WorkCompCentral for any damages and actions your post may cause.

Featured Video

Upcoming Events

  • Apr 28 – May 1, 2019

    RIMS 2019 Conference

    RIMS 2019 is the largest risk event of the year. Youll find an unprecedented number of sessions e …

  • Apr 29 – May 1, 2019

    CAAA's 2019 Hawaii: The Trial

    100% cases are the most important cases you will handle. You owe it to your client and to yourself …

  • May 2, 2019

    2019 State Board of Workers C

    The Honorable Frank R. McKay, Chairman of the State Board of Workers Compensation, along with Boa …

Workers' Compensation Events

Social Media Links


WorkCompCentral Workers' Compensation
News and Education
4081 Mission Oaks Blvd
Camarillo, CA 93012
(805) 484-0333