Q: Can an injured worker be fired for making a claim for workers' compensation benefits?

A: No, in Iowa, an employer cannot terminate employment on the basis of an employee filing for workers' compensation benefits. In Springer, the Iowa Supreme Court held that Iowa's "employment at will" doctrine does not insulate an employer from damages for emotional distress, back pay and punitive damages where an employer fires an employee for filing a workers' compensation claim. The court termed this a public policy exception. In Connaway, the National Labor Relations Act was held not to preempt the jurisdiction of State courts in deciding this type of case. Thus, even though an employee is able contest their discharge through their union's collective bargaining agreement, the employee is also able to seek damages from their employer in Iowa District Court.

More directly, a terminated claimant may be able to sue in Iowa District Court for retaliatory discharge. However, these cases have been difficult to prove.

Whichever side of such a claim you are on, you should promptly consult an attorney for information concerning your rights and how they apply to your particular situation.

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