An appeals court in Missouri on Tuesday revoked a lower court ruling against an injured worker who claimed discharge after filing a workers' claim.
Travis Poke, a former guardian of the Independence School District, injured his abdomen and groin while trying to fold a cafeteria table in December 2019. according to documents in Poke v. Independence School District filed in the Court of Appeal in Missouri, Western District, in Kansas City.
Mr. Poke worked through his pain for the next few weeks before suffering a second injury in January 2020 that required medical attention. He initiated a claim for compensation for workers the next day and later received medical treatment approved by the district, according to court documents.
On January 27, 2020, the school district released Poke, saying in a letter that he had been suspended for violating the school district's drug policy. According to the letter, a urine sample taken during Poke's medical treatment tested positive for marijuana. The district cited the positive drug test to both terminate Poke's employment and deny his workers compensation claims, documents state.
Mr. Poke filed a lawsuit against the district alleging that the grounds for his dismissal were "permanent" and "in retaliation for exercising his rights under the Workers' Compensation Act." The district court ruled in favor of the district and stated its "sovereign immunity". The judgment further found that the district's liability insurance did not waive sovereign immunity.
The Court of Appeal ruled that the district was not protected by sovereign immunity, which resulted in the revocation of the court decision and that the case was returned with instructions "to carry out further proceedings consistent with this opinion.