Did this company fire a worker for seeking medical treatment for a workplace injury, or was this a case of miscommunication? A jury made the call.
Larry Holland, a facility supervisor at Schwan’s Home Service in Benton, IL, injured his back at work in August 2008. He worked with back pain until January 2009 when doctors told him to cut back his hours.
Doctors said Holland should take time off for physical therapy beginning March 28, 2009. He was cleared to return to work three weeks later, but then he was fired.
Schwan’s claimed Holland voluntarily ended his employment by not accepting a demotion.
However, emails displayed at trial showed Schwan’s management trying to make up a reason to fire Holland once his Family Medical Leave expired.
The jury found Schwan’s corporate officials fired Holland for seeking medical care for the workplace injury and awarded the employee $3.6 million in punitive damages.
Holland’s attorney, Tom Crosby, said, “The whole issue is employers trying to retaliate because a person is exercising their rights” to medical care for a work injury.