Missouri Supreme Court Abandons Exclusive Causation Requirement for Worker’s Compensation Retaliatory Discharge Claims

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In Templemire v. W&M Welding, Inc., -- S.W.3d -- , (Mo. 2014), No. SC93132, 2014 WL 1464574, the Missouri Supreme Court threw out its long-held interpretation of section 287.780, RSMo requiring a plaintiff in a worker’s compensation retaliatory discharge claim to prove their filing a claim under Chapter 287 was the exclusive cause for the discharge. The Court now holds the employee must demonstrate his or her filing of a workers’ compensation claim was merely a “contributing factor” to the employer’s discrimination or the employee’s discharge.

The Court accepted plaintiff-employee’s argument that it should construe this statute consistently with its recent holdings on causation for MHRA claims and for public policy retaliatory discharge claims, which utilize a “contributing factor” causation burden. As part of this sea change in Missouri law, the Court specifically overruled its two foundational cases of Hansome and Crabtree, which (respectively) adopted (in 1984) and then affirmed (in 1998) the exclusive causation standard for worker’s compensation retaliatory discharge claims.

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