Law Remedy for a Retaliatory Discharge

Under Alabama law, an employment contract is terminable at will by either party - for a good reason, a wrong reason, or no reason at all. Culbreth v. Woodham Plumbing Co., 599 So. 2d 1120 (Ala. 1992). Because of this rule, which dates back to Howard v. East Tennessee V. & G. Ry., 91 Ala. 268, 8 So. 868 (1891), this Court refused to recognize a common-law remedy for a retaliatory discharge occurring as a result of an employee's filing a claim for workers' compensation benefits. Meeks v. Opp Cotton Mills, Inc., 459 So. 2d 814 (Ala. 1984). In order to ameliorate the effect of the employment-at-will doctrine in the context of an employee discharged for filing a claim for workers' compensation benefits, the Legislature in 1984 enacted 25-5-11.1, Ala. Code 1975. Section 25-5-11.1 states that "no employee shall be terminated by an employer solely because the employee has instituted or maintained any action against the employer to recover workers' compensation benefits." See Twilley v. Daubert Coated Products, Inc., 536 So. 2d 1364 (Ala. 1988).