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Nick Avgerinos
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Think Twice Before Firing An Employee For Filing A Workers' Compensation Claim – Local Governments Not Immune From Retaliatory Discharge Lawsuit in Illinois

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In a decision that is good news for governmental employees, the Illinois Supreme Court has ruled that local governments are not immune from lawsuits from employees claiming retaliatory discharge for the filing of a workers’ compensation claim. 

In the case decided by the Illinois Court, a park district employee suffered a work-related injury for which he filed a workers’ compensation claim.  When he returned to work, the local public entity claimed it had reasons for requiring him to take a drug and alcohol test.  When he refused to take the test he was fired.

The local park district argued that an Illiinois law provided it with immunity when its employees could not be held liable for the actions that caused the injury.  In siding with the injured worker, the Illinois Supreme Court reasoned that the immunity did not apply because the employer and not the employee ulitimately caused the injury.  The Court also relied on a section of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act prohibiting discharge of an employee for exercising his/her rights under the Act.

It is encouraging in this political climate to see judicial decisions that uphold the rights of injured workers to exercise their rights.