Let’s be clear right now – it is illegal for employers to retaliate against employees for filing a workers’ compensation claim in St. Louis. In fact, Missouri law is very clear about employees’ exercising their right to seek workers’ compensation.
Missouri Revised Statutes section 287.780.1 prohibits employers from discharging or in any way discriminating against an employee for exercising his or her rights to workers’ compensation. The statute also provides for a civil action and damages against the employer for such retaliation.
St. Louis Employees Have the Right to Workers’ Compensation
Missouri law provides that an employee who has been injured or contracted an illness related to their work or work environment may make a claim for workers’ compensation. Common Missouri workplace illnesses include:
- Respiratory illness
- Hearing loss
- Skin disease
Common non-fatal workplace injuries include:
- Head injuries
- Spine injuries
- Joint injuries
- Soft-tissue injuries
- Falls on the same level
- Being struck by an object or equipment
- Falls to a lower level
- Bodily reactions
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Slip or trip accidents
- Getting caught in equipment
- Repetitive motion activities
- Being struck against an object or equipment
The purpose of workers’ compensation insurance is to protect employees and employers alike. Employees receive compensation for illnesses and injuries caused by their employment and employers are generally shielded from employee lawsuits.
New Standard of Proof for Retaliation Claims
After decades of Missouri employees having to prove that their discharge was exclusively because of the workers’ compensation claim, the Missouri Supreme Court issued a decision in 2014 reducing the burden of proof on the employee. The Court announced in Templemire v. W&M Welding, Inc. that the employee need only establish that the workers’ compensation claim contributed to the employer's’ adverse action against the employee. The court also listed some examples of what may satisfy the sufficient evidence requirement for a retaliation claim. Those examples include, but are not limited to:
- Employers yelling at workers’ compensation claimants
- Employers complaining to others about the claimant’s injury
- Employers belittling injured workers
- Evidence that injured workers did not receive accommodations when injured
- Evidence that the employee’s discharge was “contrary to the employers progressive discipline policy”
Based on the Court’s decision, it seems quite clear that the employers need not overtly state that they are being fired for filing a claim. Retaliation can be much more insidious. Employers can mistreat an employee through harassment or pressure them into quitting. If your employer gives you the impression that bad things will happen if you file a claim, talk to an expert and get the facts before you fail to meet filing deadlines.
Contact Roach Law
If you believe that your employer is retaliating against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim, you need the advice of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. Kevin J. Roach is a St. Louis workers’ compensation attorney and routinely handles claims throughout the state of Missouri. Call today for a free workers’ compensation consultation at (636) 519-0085, or contact us online.