What Is Retaliatory Discharge?

What is retaliatory discharge in a Kentucky workers’ compensation claim? When a person is injured on the job in Kentucky, the employer is not allowed to commit retaliatory discharge or fire an injured worker for pursuing a workers’ compensation claim. The statute which governs retaliatory discharge also states that a person cannot be harassed, coerced or discriminated against for either pursuing or filing a workers’ compensation claim. This statute is designed to protect an injured worker’s job from the time of the accident through the time they are recovered from their injuries and return to work.

Normally, an employer can discharge an at-will employee, or an employee not working under a contract, for good cause, for no cause at all, or for a cause that is “morally indefensible.” It would seem as though an at-will employee can be fired at any time for any reason. However, there are certain restrictions on what is called the “at-will doctrine” to provide workers some protection from potential employer abuses.

To prove that retaliatory discharge has occurred in a workers’ compensation claim there are four criteria which must be met. First, the worker has to show they were pursuing a workers’ compensation claim. Second, it has to be shown that the employer knew the injured worker was pursuing a workers compensation claim. Third, the injured worker has to show that the employer either fired, harassed, coerced or discriminated against them in their employment. Lastly, the injured worker has to show that there was a causal connection between pursuing the workers’ compensation claim and the adverse employment action. Thus, a person cannot allege retaliatory discharge just because they have been fired.

It should be noted too that even though a person may be injured on the job and is protected from retaliatory discharge, they must still abide by the employer’s rules and regulations governing employment with the company. There are a number of considerations to be undertaken after being injured on the job. This article only discusses limited aspects of retaliatory discharge in a potential workers’ compensation claim and is not meant to be exhaustive. Should you have any questions regarding your workers’ compensation claim, do not hesitate to contact our offices.


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