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Affirming a trial court’s entry of a judgment against a former employer for $412,680 in compensatory and punitive damages in a former employee’s retaliatory discharge action, an Indiana appellate court held that there were issues of fact as to retaliatory discharge and invasion of privacy claims and that the jury had made appropriate findings in favor of the plaintiff, the former employee. The appellate court acknowledged that evidence that an employee was physically unable to perform the tasks required by his pre-injury work could, under very specific circumstances, serve as a legitimate non-retaliatory basis for termination. The court added, however, that it would be contrary to public policy to hold that an employer may not fire an employee in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim, but that an employer may fire an employee for the inability to return to his job due to the injuries that were the basis for the workers’ compensation claim. This was especially the case where, as here, the employee was discharged well before the full extent of permanent injury was known. The court noted that following the employee’s injury, the work atmosphere became rancorous and that one of the owners had even posted a statement on Facebook® accusing the injured employee of malingering.
Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is the co-author of Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law (LexisNexis).
LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance. Bracketed citations link to lexis.com.
See Best Formed Plastics, LLC v. Shoun, 2016 Ind. App. LEXIS 41 (Feb. 16, 2016) [2016 Ind. App. LEXIS 41 (Feb. 16, 2016)]
See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 104.07 [104.07]
For a more detailed discussion of the case, see http://www.workcompwriter.com/facebook-plays-role-in-indiana–400000-verdict-for-retaliatory-discharge/
Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law.
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