Woman can't pursue workers comp retaliation claim because employer shortened statute of limitations in hiring contract
Stephanie Hier attempted to sue Douglas J. Management and Gina Polce after she was hounded out of her job. She claimed that the defendants purposely made her miserable in retaliation for filing a workers compensation claim. The law of workers compensation makes it illegal to discriminate against someone for filing a workers compensation claim, and the statute would allow a victim of retaliation two years in which to file suit. When Hier was hired, though, the employer imposed a handbook requirement that substituted a 180-day statute of limitations for the state statutory limitations on any legal claim she might have arising out of her employment. In reliance on this handbook provision, the trial judge deemed himself obligated to dismiss Hier's claim.
On appeal the Court of Appeals pointed out that "under Michigan law private parties are permitted to contract for [a shorter] limitations period" than state statute would impose. The Court also noted that when she was hired, Hier was given a copy of the handbook with the 182 day limitation period "agreement" and was therefore bound by it. Since she didn't sue within the short period demanded by the employer's handbook, it didn't matter if the defendants illegally retaliated against her for collecting workers compensation benefits.