Discharged Employee Told He “Would Regret” Filing A Workers’ Compensation Claim
Having dedicated their practice to fighting for the rights of employees, our Citrus County, Florida employment law attorneys have learned that some employers try to prevent employees from making a workers’ compensation claim by using tactics of intimidation and coercion. In many cases, employees are warned, explicitly or implicitly, they will suffer adverse employment consequences if they make a workers’ compensation claim. Under Florida law, it is unlawful for employers to discharge, threaten to discharge, intimidate, or coerce employees because they have made or attempted to make a workers’ compensation claim. The alleged facts in the recent decision in Jackson v. Aulick Chemical Solutions, Inc., 2018 WL 310139 (E.D. Ken. Jan. 1, 2018) are illustrative of the type of employer tactics made unlawful under Florida law. Learn more about retaliation and being fired after filing workers compensation below.
Employee Fired After Making Workers’ Compensation Claim
In that case, Wil Jackson (Jackson) alleged that his former employer, Aulick Chemical Solutions, Inc. (ACS), fired him in retaliation for making a workers’ compensation claim. Jackson was hired as a sales and customer representative working out of his home. In February 2016, the owner of ACS informed Jackson that he would be reassigned to a research and development engineering position. The base pay and benefits were equal, but unlike the sales position, the engineering position did not bring with it the promise of commission, which was as much as $10,000 or more a year.
On June 23, 2016, Jackson fell at a company team-building retreat and injured his hip. On July 17, 2016, Jackson sought medical treatment for pain at the emergency room. He was given prescription-strength Ibuprofen and discharged. Jackson took two days off from work. During this time, Jackson spoke with the owner of ACS about filing a workers’ compensation claim and his need for time off from work. Jackson alleged that the owner pressured him not to file a workers’ compensation claim and warned him that he “would regret” filing a workers’ compensation claim. That same day, Jackson filed a workers’ compensation claim.
On August 1, 2016, ACS terminated Jackson’s employment. ACS maintained that Jackson was fired for poor job performance. In particular, ACS claimed that Jackson was fired because of poor sales performance, failure to accept the engineering position, loss of a customer in his territory, and economic hardship requiring a reduction in force.
ACS filed a motion with the trial court seeking dismissal of Jackson’s claim that he was fired in retaliation for making a workers’ compensation claim. In doing so, ACS maintained that Jackson’s case was meritless and Jackson was prohibited from bringing his case before a jury for resolution. The trial court denied the motion for dismissal and ruled that Jackson’s retaliatory discharge claim must be resolved by a jury.
Reasons For Discharge “Are Flimsy, Even Nonsensical”
In denying the motion for dismissal, the trial court found that there was sufficient evidence of a causal connection between Jackson’s workers’ compensation claim and his termination. The trial court pointed out that Jackson was fired fifteen days after he filed his workers’ compensation claim. “Fifteen days,” the trial court explained, was sufficiently close to “prove a causal connection.” The trial court also found that the owner’s threat to Jackson that he “would regret” filing a workers’ compensation claim further established the requisite causal connection between Jackson’s workers’ compensation claim and his termination.
The trial court determined that the company’s reasons for firing Jackson were “very likely” a pretext for a retaliatory discharge. Indeed, the trial court characterized the company’s reasons as “flimsy, even nonsensical.” With respect to the company’s assertion that Jackson was fired for poor sales performance, the trial court observed that ACS offered “absolutely no explanation” why “poor sales performance” supported Jackson’s firing on August 1, 2016 when ACS was planning to transition Jackson to a non-sales position since February 2016. The trial court found that the company’s assertion that Jackson did not accept the engineering position was “pretextual” because ACS never required Jackson to accept the position by a specific date. Turning to the company’s claim that Jackson was fired because of the loss of a customer in his territory, the trial court concluded that the evidence reflected that Jackson “was not the reason” the customer left ACS and “ACS knew [Jackson] was not the reason.” Thus, the trial court reasoned, “it would make little sense for [Jackson] to be fired for the loss of that customer.” Finally, the trial court found the company’s explanation that Jackson was fired because it was not economically feasible to continue to employ him was “dubious” because after Jackson was fired “ACS filled Jackson’s sales position and filled the proposed new engineering position.”
Free Consultation With Citrus County Retaliation Lawyers
Based in Ocala, Florida and representing employees throughout Central Florida, we have extensive experience representing employees who have been fired in retaliation for making a workers’ compensation claim. If you have been the victim of workers’ compensation retaliation or have questions about your protection from retaliation for making a workers’ compensation claim, please contact our office for a free consultation with our Citrus County, Florida retaliation attorneys. Our employee rights law firm takes retaliation cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that there are no attorney’s fees incurred unless there is a recovery and our attorney’s fees come solely from the monetary award that you recover.