Woman's retaliation claim dismissed
A disappointing decision by the Court of Appeals this week dismissed the retaliatory firing claim of Martha Gullett against her employer, Autoform, Inc. Ms. Gullett injured her hand while working as a press operator in 2002. She returned to work after several months and in an attempt to accommodate her injury, she was assigned a job as a "checker" performing repetitive tasks. Over the following three years, she was forced to take additional time off with pain in the injured hand and ultimately her physician restricted her from working as a "checker" due to her "repetitive" use of the injured hand. Her employer then discharged her upon the exhaustion of her rights under the Family Medical Leave Act.
Gullet filed an action alleging that her firing was in retaliation for her workers' compensation injury claims, pointing to the timing of her discharge and to comments made by co-workers alleging a causal relationship between her disability claim and her discharge. In a very brief opinion, the Court held that her evidence was not strong enough to be heard by a jury. Perhaps there is more to the case than meets the eye (or was reported by the Court), but it certainly appears that Ms. Gullett had grounds to go forward, and that the timing of her discharge was more than a coincidence.