In a 4-3 decision, the Ohio Supreme Court has granted an Ohio worker the right to file a civil lawsuit against his former employer for firing him before he could file a workers' compensation claim. The worker, who injured his back while working in a machine shop, claims he was fired without explanation less than an hour after reporting the injury to his employer.
The question at hand was whether the injured worker was protected by a state law that makes it illegal for employers to punish or fire an employee who has filed a workers' compensation claim. In this case, the man had not yet filed a claim, but in a divided decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the law should still apply to workers in the time between the injury and the workers' compensation filing.
One justice explained that the ruling was based on the idea that the law in question was not created with the intent to allow employers to retaliate against employees before they had the chance to file an official claim. The justice added that the decision was in line with the state's anti-retaliation legislation that gives workers the right to take necessary action without worrying about being penalized by their employers.
While the dissenting minority did not necessarily approve of the man's firing, they argued that the court's ruling concerned a problem that would have better been addressed by the General Assembly. However, the man was allowed to collect workers' compensation benefits for his injury.
Employees rightfully expect that their employers will provide them with a safe environment to work in. However, many workers are still injured on the job every year in Ohio. If you have been hurt while at work, you may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits. Experienced Ohio attorneys understand how complex these cases can be. And in certain situations, like this one, a civil lawsuit may be appropriate.
Source: The Columbus Dispatch, "Divided Ohio court lets worker sue over firing," Catherine Candisky, 10 June 2011