Frampton v. Central Indiana Gas Co.
260 Ind. 249 (1973)

Facts:

  • Plaintiff, an employee of defendant, injured her arm while working. Defendant and their insurer paid her hospital and medical expenses, as well as her full salary, during the four months she was unable to work.
  • When she did return to the job she performed capably.
  • Approximately 19 months after the injury, defendant and its insurer were notified of a 30 per cent loss in the use of her arm.
  • Although hesitant to file a claim for fear of losing her job she did so, and received a settlement for her injury.
  • About one month later she was discharged from her employment without reason being given.
  • She then brought a claim for retaliatory discharge.

History:

  • The Circuit Court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim.
  • The DCA affirmed.

Issue:
Is retaliatory discharge for filing workmen’s compensation claim a wrongful, unconscionable act actionable in court of law?

Holding:
Yes. Reversed and remanded.

Reasoning:
In order for the goals of the Act to be realized and for public policy to be effectuated, the employee must be able to exercise his right in an unfettered fashion without being subject to reprisal. If employers are permitted to penalize employees for filing workmen’s compensation claims, a most important public policy will be undermined. The fear of being discharged would have a deleterious effect on the exercise of a statutory right.

Rule: Retaliatory discharge for filing a workers’ comp claim constitutes an intentional, wrongful act on the part of the employer for which the injured employee is entitled to be fully compensated in damages.