Alabama: Former Employer’s Contention That It Fired Employee for Wielding a Gun Rather Than for Filing Comp Claim Found Lacking

Alabama: Former Employer’s Contention That It Fired Employee for Wielding a Gun Rather Than for Filing Comp Claim Found Lacking

The Supreme Court of Alabama recently reversed a decision by the state’s Court of Civil Appeals that had, in turn, reversed a judgment entered on a jury verdict in favor of a former employee who filed a retaliatory discharge action against his former employer.  The Court of Civil Appeals determined that the plaintiff failed to show that the reason given for the termination—that the plaintiff brought a gun to the employer’s premises—was pretextual.  At trial, although the jury initially answered the questions proffered to it in a contradictory manner, it eventually returned a verdict in favor of plaintiff awarding $5,000 in actual damages and $70,000 in punitive damages. The trial court entered judgment thereon.  The Supreme Court noted that plaintiff had offered evidence to suggest that others had brought firearms onto the premises without being terminated, that one witness testifying for the employer admitted that he had himself purchased a gun in the employer’s parking lot, and that the defendant employer failed to show that it had ever communicated a policy prohibiting the presence of firearms on its premises.  The Supreme Court indicated that the Court of Civil Appeals had erred when it essentially held that an employer is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law merely because it offers evidence of an independent and lawful reason that could otherwise justify termination of employment.

Reported by Thomas A. Robinson, J.D.

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance. Bracketed citations link to lexis.com.

See M & J Materials, Inc. v. Isbell, 2013 Ala. LEXIS 75 (June 28, 2013) [2013 Ala. LEXIS 75 (June 28, 2013)].

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 104.07 [104.07].

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law.

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