Alabama Workers' Comp Blawg

  • 19
  • Jun
  • 2009

SUMMARY JUDGMENT FOR EMPLOYER ON RETALIATORY DISCHARGE CLAIM IS AFFIRMED

Christopher Hatch v. NTW Incorporated, d/b/a/ National Tire and Battery Company:

On June 19, 2009, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals affirmed the trial court’s Order granting the Employer’s Summary Judgment Motion as to the retaliatory discharge portion in the workers’ compensation claim. The employer was terminated due to the expiration of his 3 months of leave time (FMLA) pursuant to company policy. These 3 months consisted of time the plaintiff was off for the on the job back injury. In fact, the 3 months expired approximately 7 days after the employee was placed at MMI. The Court of Appeals held the plaintiff could use circumstantial evidence to establish a prima facie case for retaliatory discharge pursuant to Alabama case law. However, the proximity of the termination to the MMI date, the decision maker’s knowledge of the compensation claim, the supervisor’s attempt to contact the doctor, allowing an employer to work light duty for a period despite the lack of company policy, and having the reason for termination expressed two different ways but both indicating termination was due to the expiration of leave time was not enough circumstantial evidence to establish the compensation claim was the sole motivating factor for the termination.

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