Perhaps the most simple claim to prove to a jury in the field of employment termination is a claim for retaliation based on the Worker’s Compensation statute. Section 440.205 states that:
No employer shall discharge, threaten to discharge, intimidate, or coerce any employee by reason of such employee’s valid claim for compensation or attempt to claim compensation under the Workers’ Compensation Law.
It is a commonly held belief by most, if not all of us, that once you are injured on the job your days are numbered with your employer. No matter how positive the employer may seem with regard to employee relations, no matter how fair or just an employer may seem through its policies and procedures as stated in its employee handbook, it is virtually a lock that once you’re injured on the job it’s only a matter of time before you are terminated. Whether it’s right when it happens, when employee has completed his or her medical treatment and is released “full duty” or sometime in between, it’s only a matter of time before that employee is fired.
These types of claims in Florida are based on a tort remedy paradigm and therefore all sorts of remedies are available to the injured employee should that employee be successful in bringing a claim against their former employer for wrongful termination based on the Worker’s Compensation retaliation statute.
Back pay, front pay, pain and suffering, humiliation, mental anguish, emotional distress, punitive damages, all are available under section 440.205. It is absolutely essential, however, that whenever an employee is injured on the job, that the employee reports the injury immediately to whomever such a report is supposed to be made, and if you don’t know who that would be, tell your supervisor, your supervisor’s supervisor, or the human relations department, and also immediately request medical care. It is up to the employer to provide medical care and to potentially provide an alternative duty assignment for however long it takes for that employee to recover.
But all that almost never happens. What usually happens is that somehow, the employer convinces itself of a justification for firing the injured employee.
There is an interplay between the Worker’s Compensation retaliation statute, the Americans With Disabilities Act, and the family medical leave act, more on that on the next blog post.
That’s enough for now.