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Workers' Compensation

North Carolina: Police Officer Loses Retaliatory Discharge Action

In an opinion not designated for publication, the Court of Appeals of North Carolina affirmed a trial court’s order granting the defendant/employer summary judgment in a retaliatory discharge action filed against it by a former police officer who was terminated subsequent to his sustaining an admitted work-related injury. Noting that the states Retaliatory Employment Discharge Act (“REDA”) invoked a burden-shifting framework, the court agreed that the officer had “exercised his right” to file a workers’ compensation claim and subsequently had “suffered an adverse employment action.” Therefore, the first two of three elements of a prima facie case had been established. As to the third element, the officer failed to show a close temporal proximity between his filing for benefits and his termination (four months elapsed between the two). Moreover, the employer had shown a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for firing the officer—dishonesty. With that showing, the burden shifted back to the plaintiff/officer. The court indicated the plaintiff had failed to bring forth any evidence to contradict the employer’s evidence that plaintiff had lied to another officer about a matter important to their employment duties.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is co-author of Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law (LexisNexis).

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance.

See Atkins v. Town of Wake Forest, 2019 N.C. App. LEXIS 576 (July 2, 2019)

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

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