MO Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Injured Workers

MO Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Injured Workers

In a 5-2 decision, the Missouri Supreme Court delivered a ruling on Tuesday, April 15, 2014 in the case Templemire v. W&M Welding that expands the legal rights of injured workers. Prior to the ruling, injured workers who are fired from their jobs had to prove that their workers' compensation claim was the exclusive cause for their dismissal from work. Overturning 30 years of legal precedent, the new ruling says that employees now only have to prove that their workers' compensation claims were a contributing factor in their dismissal.

This decision recognizes retaliatory discharges involving employees pursuing their legal rights to workers' compensation benefits to be equivalent to cases alleging retaliation for workplace discrimination or whistleblower activity. This is a big win for Missourians who are injured on the job.

In this video, Missouri workers’ compensation attorney Mark Cantor explains the significance of the Missouri Supreme Court’s ruling in Templemire v. W&M Welding issued on April 15, 2014. The ruling overturns 30 years of legal precedent by lowering the burden of proof of injured workers alleging retaliatory discharge after filing a workers’ compensation claim.

Video Transcript:

I want to talk to you for a moment about retaliatory discharge in Missouri workers' compensation. An employer will frequently try to find a reason to fire you after you have pursued your rights to benefits under Missouri workers' compensation. They will do that because if they fire you for cause, like let's say you miss work as an excuse, then they don't owe you anymore temporary total disability benefits. It stops their obligation to pay you if they fire you rightly.

But what happens when they fire you wrongly? What happens when they create a reason to terminate you? It used to be before yesterday, April 15, 2014, that your lawyer would have to go before a jury and prove that the exclusive reason, the only reason, you were fired is because you pursued your workers' compensation rights. The Supreme Court of Missouri yesterday on April 15, 2014 in the case of John Templemire v. W&M Welding, Inc., set the law right.

The Missouri approved jury instruction saying that work comp had to be the exclusive reason you were terminated is the wrong standard of law and has been for some time. What the Supreme Court boldly did was acknowledge that when a law is wrong, when it is misinterpreted and applied in error, then stare decisis doesn't apply. We don't have to follow a precedent this wrong. What the Supreme Court of Missouri did was decide that if work was a contributing factor then you may pursue a retaliatory discharge claim. That makes a big difference. I have cases going on in this office right now where my clients were terminated for reasons I think the employer created simply because they were pursuing their workers' compensation rights.

Those cases have changed now because I don't have to go to trial and prove that their workers compensation claim was the only reason they were fired, I have to go to court and prove that their work comp claim was a contributing factor in the reason they were terminated and that makes it easier. I applaud the Supreme Court of Missouri in their decision yesterday.

I want to tell you, if you have been terminated because you have pursued your workers' compensation claim–that is wrong. That is the same as firing you for your race or religion and it is 2014. We can't have that. If that happens to you and you can prove it, I invite you to call me, Mark Cantor, at (314) 542-9999. Thank you.

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