The Supreme Court of Missouri ruled unanimously on Tuesday that there is no sovereign immunity from retaliation against workers’ compensation against a public school district.
Travis Poke worked as a guardian for the Independence School District when he injured his lower abdomen and groin in December 2019 when he tried to lower a cafeteria table, according to Poke v. Independence School Districtfiled in Jefferson City.
He aggravated the injury in January 2020 when he lifted a full dustbin at work.
Mr. Poke filed a workers’ compensation claim and the district directed him to an authorized treatment provider. He gave the supplier a urine sample.
The area later discharged Mr. Poke because his urine test tested positive for marijuana. The area also denied his worker comfort based on his positive drug test.
Mr. Poke brought an action, arguing that the district̵7;s basis for his dismissal was pretextual and that he was in fact fired in retaliation for exercising his rights under state law.
The district filed a request for summary judgment, claiming that it was protected by sovereign immunity from retaliation. A trial judge granted the motion, but the appellate court reversed and found that sovereign immunity did not protect the district.
The Missouri Supreme Court agreed that state law prohibits all employers from participating in retaliation and creates a civil action for damages against all employers who ignore this prohibition.
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