Public Policy Basis For Wrongful Termination Claim In Arizona
The Arizona Employment Protection Act includes various employment protections that the legislature has deemed are consistent with the "public policy of this state." The Act also severely limits contract-based claims, effectively eliminating such claims if there is no written contract. One of the protections provided applies to retaliatory actions based on the exercise of workers' compensation rights. Other areas covered include, among other things, the breach of written contract, retaliation for complaints about the employer's violation of a state statute, and retaliation for the exercise of voting rights.
Retaliation For Exercise Of Workers' Compensation Rights
The Arizona legislature specifically recognized the possibility of an employer discriminating against and terminating an employee because he or she sought workers' compensation benefits. Arizona law provides, at A.R.S. § 23-1501(3)(c)(iii), as follows:
3. An employee has a claim against an employer for termination of employment only if one or more of the following circumstances have occurred:
(c) The employer has terminated the employment relationship of an employee in retaliation for any of the following:
(iii) The exercise of rights under the workers' compensation statutes prescribed in chapter 6 of this title.
Notably, the statute limits wrongful termination claims to those covered in the statute, and workers' compensation is an issue addressed. While an employer guilty of wrongful termination under these circumstances is of course unlikely to admit such an illegal motivation, a termination following the exercise of workers' compensation rights should be viewed with suspicion.
Filing A Wrongful Termination Claim
Claims under the Employment Protection Act generally must be filed within one year, and related claims often have even shorter limitations periods. If you think your employment has been illegally terminated make sure you speak with an employment attorney before you sign any documents provided by your employer and before the time for bringing a claim has expired.