Massachusetts Court Reverses Dismissal of Injured Worker’s Claim Against Employer Who Fired Her

Cape Cod work injury cases can be more complicated than they first appear. Sometimes, there is “more to the story” all along, as in a situation in which an injured person may have several legal options resulting from his or her injury – a workers’ compensation claim against his or her employer, a product liability claim against the maker of a dangerous product that was used in the workplace, or perhaps a negligence action against a third party (as in a car accident lawsuit brought by a delivery driver hurt in a crash).

In other situations, the case grows more complex over time, as new developments give rise to additional litigation possibilities.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was a woman who was injured in 2013 while working on the premises of the defendant company. At the time, the plaintiff was a working for a temporary employment service, from whom she later collected workers’ compensation benefits due to her injury. After being hired as a full-time employee by the defendant, the plaintiff filed a third-party action against an employee of the defendant’s, whom she alleged negligently caused her injury. The plaintiff also named the defendant in the suit, pursuant to the doctrine of respondeat superior.

A few weeks thereafter, the defendant terminated the plaintiff, stating that, when the plaintiff sued the defendant, she didn’t have the company’s best interests in mind.  The plaintiff then brought an action against the defendant for retaliatory termination in violation of Massachusetts General Laws ch. 152, § 75B(2). The trial court dismissed her claim, and she appealed.

The Court’s Decision

The Massachusetts Appeals Court vacated the lower court’s judgment. According to the appeals court, the plaintiff had exercised a right afforded by the Workers’ Compensation Act when she filed her third-party action against the defendant, and the plaintiff’s amended complaint set forth sufficient facts that the defendant’s termination of her employment was in retaliation for the third-party negligence suit.

According to the court, the Act provides wage-loss protection to employees who are injured on the job and incur a loss of earning capacity from their injuries. Ch. 152, § 75B(2) prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who exercise a right afforded under the Act.

Consult a Massachusetts Work Injury Lawyer

If you have been hurt at work, you need to understand your legal rights, not just with regard to a workers’ compensation claim but also to possible third party actions or even, as in the case discussed above, a possible retaliatory discharge suit against your employer if you are filed after being injured at work. To schedule an appointment to discuss your work injury case with an experienced Cape Cod workers’ compensation lawyer, call the Law Offices of John C. Manoog, III, at 888-262-6664. We have offices in Plymouth and Hyannis, and we can make home or hospital visits, if necessary.

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