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Bryant Whitten, LLP

California woman says she was fired for work injury

A former mammography associate at a Kaiser hospital in California says she was fired after taking time off in connection with a work-related injury. She is now suing her former employer for wrongful discharge in violation of California law.

After working at the hospital for nine years, the woman began to experience migraine headaches and carpal tunnel syndrome that she claims were the result of her work activities. She made a worker's compensation claim and sought one week of medical leave to recover. After that, she says she was harassed by her supervisors for missing too much work. Just hours after notifying her employer that her physician had placed her on light duty, she was called into an emergency meeting and suspended pending investigation of what her supervisors called a "near miss error." A week later, she was fired for the alleged error.

The woman claims in her lawsuit that the reason given for her discharge was pretext for unlawful discrimination and retaliation. She says she was replaced by a less experienced worker who is younger and not disabled. In addition to damages for her injuries, the woman is seeking to enjoin the hospital from further acts of discrimination, harassment and retaliation.

While employers generally do not need to give a reason when firing an employee, it is illegal to fire someone in retaliation for filing a worker's compensation claim or taking medical leave. When the evidence suggests an employee was fired for a retaliatory reason, the employee should consider pursuing a claim for wrongful termination. An experienced employment law attorney may be able to assist in evaluating the evidence to determine if the employee has a viable claim.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Woman Says Work Injury Cost Her Kaiser Job," Philip A. Janquart, March 28, 2013

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