HR Management & Compliance

On-the-Job Injuries and Wrongful Termination in California

by Cathleen S. Yonahara

The California Court of Appeal recently addressed a case of wrongful termination after an employee was fired following a work-related injury. Was the case successful in its claim that the employer violated workers’ compensation policy as well as discriminated on the basis of disability? Read on to find out.

In April 2013, Adam Prue filed a complaint against Brady Company/San Diego, Inc., alleging wrongful termination in violation of public policy. Prue alleged that on June 27, 2011, he suffered a work-related injury and was treated at an emergency room. Further, Brady was aware that Prue filed or intended to file a claim for workers’ comp benefits after the industrial accident.

Prue suffered orthopedic and psychological injuries that affected his musculoskeletal and psychological systems, and he was placed on work restrictions. Despite allegedly being capable of performing his essential job functions, however, he was terminated in July 2011.

Prue alleged that Brady retaliated and discriminated against him because he suffered and reported a work-related injury, in violation of Labor Code Section 132a and California public policy. He also alleged in his complaint, “It is well[-]established law that a worker cannot be terminated from his/her employment based solely on a disability. Actions such as these deeply offend public policy.”

In answer to the complaint, Brady asserted certain affirmative defenses, including defenses based on statutes of limitations, workers’ comp exclusivity, and insufficiency of the allegations. In December 2013, Brady filed a motion for summary judgment, essentially asking the court to dismiss the complaint without a trial based on undisputed facts.

Brady argued that Prue’s wrongful termination claim was barred by the workers’ comp exclusivity doctrine and the 1-year statute of limitations under Section 132a, and he hadn’t pointed to any public policy that may have been violated by his termination.

Read on to find out the outcome of this California claim.