Manager fails to show termination was motivated by comp claim
Case name: Digan v. Euro-American Brands, LLC, No. 10-CV-799 (N.D. Ill. 06/05/12).
Ruling: The U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois granted summary judgment to a company on a manager's claims of retaliation and discrimination.
What it means: According to this court, a retaliatory discharge claim can survive summary judgment if the employee can show her termination was primarily motivated by the filing of her workers' compensation claim.
Summary: A Midwest regional sales manager for a company that imported and distributed European goods worked from home but spent 35 percent of her time traveling for her job. She was injured in her home office while moving boxes of sales samples. She was diagnosed with two ruptured and herniated disks in her neck. She received workers' compensation benefits. She required surgery, and the company placed her on a leave of absence. After surgery, she was restricted from traveling. After being on leave for seven months, it was unclear if and when the manager would be able to return to work. The company concluded that it could not go on without a regional manager and terminated the manager. She sued for retaliation and discrimination. The U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois granted summary judgment to the company.
The manager claimed that the company retaliated against her for her workers' compensation claim when it terminated her. The court disagreed, pointing out that the company assisted her in opening a workers' compensation claim by notifying its workers' compensation insurer soon after she sustained her injury.
Further, the company had a legitimate reason for terminating her. The manager was unable to travel, which was an essential function of her job.
The court also found that the manager's disability discrimination claims failed. She was not disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 because her injury did not prevent her from working a "broad range of jobs." Further, her injury did not cause a long-term impairment because she was later employed by another company doing the same work.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
August 16, 2012
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