A Florida paramedic who was fired for taking a legally prescribed medication will have a new hearing in his wrongful termination case. The man, who lost his job in 2013, was reportedly fired because a sample tested positive for a weight-loss drug. It was later determined that the man had a prescription for that particular medication. Although the Highlands County Emergency Medical Services had offered him his job back, he refused to return until several conditions were met; the man was afraid that he might suffer retaliation and other employee rights violations. He did not accept an offer for rehire that was extended to him after the incident.
At issue in the case is whether the man refused an “offer of suitable work” after his employer realized its mistake. It is already established that the employer engaged in wrongful discharge; however, officials must now determine whether the man had unreasonable expectations in returning to his job. The man had demanded remedies including compensation for lost wages and benefits, along with attorney fees and a formal apology.
The Reemployment Assistance Appeals Commission will allow an additional hearing in the case because of the employer’s failure to reasonably compensate the worker. The employer refused to pay for attorney fees, for example, which the plaintiff incurred while contesting his wrongful termination. However, the RAAC also found that the man had some unreasonable demands for returning to work. Another hearing is pending for the committee to determine whether the man should qualify for unemployment benefits.
Victims of wrongful termination and other employee rights violations deserve financial compensation for their hardship. The man in this case had a legitimate reason for consuming a substance that would normally be considered banned. Workers who are wrongfully terminated because of medical conditions should receive fair hearings to determine whether they should be reinstated and receive employee benefits.
Source: Highlands Today, “Paramedic wins second employment hearing” Gary Pinnell, Jun. 06, 2014