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Retaliatory Discharge from Worker’s Compensation Claim

In Onderko v. Sierra Lobo, Case No. E-14-009, 2014-Ohio-4115, the plaintiff filed a workers’ compensation claim for a knee injury sustained while moving furniture at work.  According to his testimony, plaintiff hurt his right knee at work, but did not inform his employer of the injury but left work early and did not seek treatment until his knee “gave out” later that day while pumping gas.  The medical records indicated plaintiff had injured the knee six weeks prior, and that he reinjured it at the gas station.  The claim was disallowed by the Bureau, and the plaintiff failed to appeal the dismissal.  Plaintiff was then terminated for the sole reason that he had filed a workers’ compensation claim, which the employer stated was a “deceptive” attempt to obtain benefits for a non-work related injury.  Plaintiff brought a claim of retaliatory discharge, claiming his discharge was wrongful under the workers’ compensation statute.  The trial court disagreed, and entered summary judgment in favor of the employer, holding the plaintiff lost his right to argue the workers’ compensation claim was valid when he failed to appeal.  The Sixth District Court of Appeals disagreed, holding that an allowed workers’ compensation was not necessary in a retaliatory discharge case.  Instead, the plaintiff need only show that a claim was filed and pursued.  You can read the full opinion here.

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