Being injured at work is bad enough. Not only do most injured workers lose time at work, they also have to deal with the pain and suffering that comes along with their injury, running back and forth to doctor’s appointments – and sometimes specialists – and worrying about their finances and how they will pay their bills and otherwise support their families. The last thing anyone needs to worry about is being fired for fired for filing a workers’ compensation claim.
After all, filing a workers’ compensation claim is a right as an Oklahoma employee; that is if the employee who is injured is not an independent contractor and does not fall under the workers’ compensation exclusion list. However, employees of the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office (TCSO) found out the hard way that filing a workers’ compensation claim could lead to their terminations. TCSO Wrongful Terminations Several lawsuits were filed against the TCSO accusing the sheriff’s office of wrongful termination. One employee, Regina Striplin, worked at the Tulsa County Jail booking inmates. She got hurt while working and, like most employees would submit a workers’ compensation claim. According to the news report, she said, “The timeline was just too perfect. And they have a history of that anyway.” Workers’ Compensation Claimants Can Be Fired This happened back in 2015. And, while an employer cannot fire an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim, there are reasons that employers can fire employees while they are out on leave during a workplace injury. In most cases, however, there is not a reason for an employer to fire an employee after they filed a workers’ compensation claim. In Striplin’s case, she returned to work after having surgery. She was called into Internal Affairs and was told by high-ranking officials that the TCSO found a warrant for her arrest in Wagoner County from the 1990s. Striplin says that Wagoner County did not have a warrant for her arrest. Had she had a warrant, however, that would have been a valid reason to fire her. We Are Here To Help Unfortunately, it is not the first time an employee was fired for filing a workers’ compensation claim, and it most likely will not be the last. If you or someone you love was fired after filing a workers’ compensation claim in Oklahoma, you should talk to an Oklahoma employment law attorney. Contact an attorney at Frasier, Frasier & Hickman, LLP to discuss your case today at 918-779-3658.