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Missouri Supreme Court lowers proof burden for workers

A recent decision by the Missouri Supreme Court can be considered a victory for Missouri workers. The court ruled on a case that lowers the employee’s needed burden of proof when filing claims for retaliation after making workers’ compensation claims. This is covered in the Missouri Statutes under Section 287.780.

Under the prior rules, for an employee to prevail, he or she must have been able to prove that the filing of the workers’ compensation claim was the "exclusive" reason for the employer’s decision to terminate employment. The court’s ruling now only requires the filing of a workers’ comp claim to be a "contributing factor" in the firing decision.

The decision was based on a 2006 case where a man injured on the job while working for a welding company. He filed a claim and was put on light duty according to his doctor’s orders. His boss observed him taking a break and fired him during a profane tirade. When the employee filed suit, his case wended its way through a series of court decisions and reversals before landing in the Missouri Supreme Court.

This decision should provide Missouri employees with a smoother path to successful resolution of claims of retaliation due to workers’ compensation filings. Legitimate on-the-job accidents and injuries and subsequent claims should not result in terminations, which have a chilling effect on injured workers. The decision might also prevent workers from being afraid to file due to a fear of losing their livelihood. The ruling evens the playing field for workers all over the state and is a win for employee rights activists.

Anyone whose employment was terminated because they got hurt and filed a Missouri workers’ compensation claim should remember that legal professionals are a good source of information and guidance through all steps of the claims process.

Source: Source: hr.blr.com, "Missouri lowers burden of proof for workers' comp retaliation claims," Jennifer L. Arendes, July 10, 2014

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