November 27, 2014

Tenth Circuit: Employment Agreement Shortening Time to Bring Suit Violated Public Policy in Workers’ Compensation Retaliation Case

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals published its opinion in Pfeifer v. Federal Express Corp. on Monday, July 1, 2013.

Plaintiff Cynthia Pfeifer filed a diversity action against Defendant Federal Express Corporation in the District of Kansas alleging that Defendant retaliated against her for receiving workers’ compensation benefits by terminating her employment. Plaintiff’s employment agreement contained a provision requiring all claims against Defendant to be brought within “the time prescribed by law or 6 months from the date of the event forming the basis of [Plaintiff’s] lawsuit, whichever expires first.” The governing Kansas statute provided a 24 month statute of limitation and Pfeifer filed suit within that time period but after six months. The district court granted Defendant’s motion for summary judgment and the Tenth Circuit certified two questions to the Kansas Supreme Court.

Because the Kansas court held that the contract violated public policy by shortening the time allowed to file suit, which recognizes that injured workers should be protected from retaliation when exercising rights under the Workers Compensation Act, the Tenth Circuit reversed summary judgment and remanded.

Comments

  1. Interesting story involving retaliation of workers’ comp. thanks for sharing.

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