Workplace injuries are unfortunately common, but most people that are injured at work can pursue workers’ compensation benefits from their employer. While employees who file workers’ compensation claims are within their rights, some employers perceive such claims as a slight and will take retaliatory action against the employee. Terminating an employee due to a workplace injury is unlawful, though, and employees who are unjustly fired may be owed damages. Recently, a New Jersey court discussed what a plaintiff must allege to proceed on a retaliatory firing claim. If you lost your job after being hurt at work, you may be owed compensation and should speak to a skilled New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney about your options.
Factual Background of the Case
It is alleged that the plaintiff suffered multiple work-related injuries while he was employed by the defendant. The injuries occurred in the summer and fall of 2008 and 2011. The plaintiff received workers’ compensation medical benefits for his injuries through April 2014, when it was determined that he could return to his job without any restrictions. The plaintiff returned to work full duty in May 2014. He was fired in July 2015.
Reportedly, the plaintiff asserted that the cause of his termination was due to him being absent due to work-related injuries. He filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging he was fired in violation of the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act. The defendant moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims, arguing the plaintiff failed to demonstrate a causal link between his firing and his injury.
Wrongful Termination in Violation of the Workers’ Compensation Act
In New Jersey, a court evaluating a retaliatory discharge claim will look to the relevant federal standards for assessing such matters. Federal courts have ruled that in order to demonstrate causation, a plaintiff must either show an unusually suggestive closeness in time between the date of the plaintiff’s injury and the alleged retaliatory act or a pattern of antagonism that, when coupled with timing, demonstrates a causal link.
In the subject case, the court found that the plaintiff failed to set forth any factual allegations that would support his claim. Specifically, he was receiving medical treatment while he was out of work and was terminated several years after he attempted to resume his job activities. Thus, the court found that he did not adequately allege that his termination was in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim. As such, the defendants’ motion to dismiss was granted.
Meet with an Experienced New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Employees that are hurt on the job are typically owed workers’ compensation benefits, but in an effort to skirt their obligations, some employers will fire an injured employee. If you were fired after being hurt at work in New Jersey, you may be able to pursue claims against your former employer and should speak to an attorney. The experienced New Jersey workers’ compensation attorneys of The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can apprise you of your rights and help you to seek any damages you may be able to recover. You can contact us through our online form or at 800-999-0897 to set up a meeting.