Tennessee Court Ruling States Workers Have Same Rights as Legal Employees

by Staff Blogger | August 18th, 2014

At Michael D. Ponce & Associates, our Nashville employment lawyers point out that most companies in Tennessee are prohibited from firing injured workers for work-related injuries. But what happens if the injured worker is undocumented? These questions are currently being examined in the state’s court system, and the answer seems to be that undocumented workers have the same rights as legal residents who work.

The case stems from an incident in Jan. 2011, when an undocumented employee injured his back while working for a company in Whiteville, Tennessee. The worker received medical treatment from a doctor he was referred to by his employer. According to Business Insurance, he later had trouble getting workers’ compensation benefits and hired an attorney to help with the case.

When the attorney attempted to contact the employer, management became irate with the employee and later fired him. This prompted the filing of a wrongful termination and retaliation claim by the worker.

The case went to trial, and a jury determined the worker had no right to file a Tennessee wrongful termination claim because he didn’t have legal work status. However, the state’s Court of Appeals recently overturned the decision by stating that the previous decision had undermined numerous state laws aimed at protecting workers’ rights.

Ponce Law’s team of attorneys has seen the difficulties that can arise for injured workers who are wrongfully terminated from their positions. That’s why we are hopeful the decision reached in this case will help bring some closure to the incident for the worker who was hurt and his family.