Ala. Code §25-5-11.1
No employee shall be terminated by an employer solely because the employee has instituted or maintained any action against the employer to recover workers' compensation benefits under this chapter….
The rights and benefits guaranteed to injured workers in Alabama would be circumvented if employers were legally allowed to intimidate or harass injured workers to prevent them from making claims for workers' compensation benefits. A sure-fire way to intimidate an entire workforce would be for an employer to terminate injured workers after making a claim for workers' compensation benefits. Any future employee who thought their job was at risk would think twice before filing their own claim. It doesn't do anyone any good for the Alabama legislature to pass a workers' compensation law, if injured workers can be coerced from making claims through fear of losing their job. Fortunately, the Alabama legislature envisioned the potential retaliatory discharge scenario and included Ala. Code §25-5-11.1 in the Alabama Workers' Compensation Act.
What the Retaliatory Discharge provision means the injured worker: Your employer cannot terminate you because you made a claim for workers' compensation benefits. If an injured worker can prove they were fired because they filed a claim for workers' compensation benefits, then there might arise an entitlement to wider range of traditional civil damages, and not the limited damages allowable under the Alabama Workers' Compensation Act.
The employer will likely have their own alternate reason for terminating an injured worker. This means you will have to prove that the employers' stated reason is a façade, and the real reason for termination was retaliation for making a workers' compensation claim.
What the Retaliatory Discharge provision does not mean for the injured worker: If there exists no available jobs that will accommodate work restrictions, employers are not required to invent a job that will accommodate an injured worker's restrictions placed by the authorized treating physician). This is a typical reason injured workers are terminated from their employment.
Conclusion: Retaliation claims under the Alabama Workers' Compensation Act are rare, and they can be difficult to prove, but they will likely lead to higher awards when successful. To speak with an attorney regarding a workers' compensation issue in Alabama click here.