In Texas, you have the right to file a worker’s compensation claim if you have been injured on the job. If your employer retaliates against you for filing such a claim, you have the right to sue your employer. If you simply lose your job for some other legitimate reason, you do not have a retaliation lawsuit. You must be able to show that your termination was motivated by retaliation. Intent to retaliate is very difficult to prove because employers do not generally announce, "We are firing you because you filed a worker’s compensation claim." Employers will typically hide their true intent by finding some other "legitimate" reason for terminating you. In order to bring a solid worker’s compensation retaliation lawsuit, you need tangible, objective, "smoking gun" evidence of your employer’s intent to retaliate. It is rare that you will ever have this kind of evidence. But every now and then an employer makes a stupid mistake and leaves you this type of gift.
A classic example of the type of evidence that is needed to support a retaliation claim is a case in which I recently represented a certified transmission technician who injured his shoulder on the job. The injured worker was on medical leave for approximately 14 months. When the doctor said the employee could go back to work, he eagerly reported the news to his employer, who had kept his tools in his work stall for him during the entire leave of absence, waiting for him to return. At first, the shop supervisor welcomed him back. However, a few days later, the shop supervisor informed him that he was not needed.
It so happened that the owner of the car dealership also owned another car dealership in a nearby town. The employee heard that this nearby dealership was desperate for certified transmission technicians. The transmission technician went to that dealership and was welcomed with open arms. The employee actually worked one full day. However, the next day his supervisor informed him that he had been instructed by "upper management" to terminate him. The employee called the human resources department to ask why. He was told that that he was terminated because he was considered a "high risk" employee. This was the "smoking gun" we needed.
This is the type of evidence necessary to bring a legitimate retaliation claim under the worker’s compensation statute. We are currently representing the employee in his lawsuit against the owner of these two car dealerships.
To read a copy of the lawsuit we filed, click here.
If you have any questions about worker’s compensation retaliation contact us.