Wilmont v. Kaiser Aluminum
In Wilmont v. Kaiser Aluminum, 821 P.2d 18 Wash (1991), the Washington Supreme Court discussed the rules that applied when a plaintiff alleged that he had been wrongfully discharged in retaliation for pursuing a workers' compensation claim.
In order to show a prima facie case, the Washington Supreme Court held that a Plaintiff must show:
that he exercised his statutory right to pursue workers' compensation benefits;
that he was discharged;
that there was a causal connection between the exercise of the legal right and the discharge, i.e., that the employer's motivation for discharge was the employee's exercise of his statutory rights. The Washington court noted that a prima facie case could be brought by a plaintiff showing that he filed a workers' compensation claim, that the employer had knowledge of the claim, and that the employee was discharged.
This situation could create a rebuttable presumption in favor of the employee.
As noted by the Washington court, "ordinarily, the prima facie case must, in the nature of things, be shown by circumstantial evidence, since the employer is not apt to announce retaliation as his motive." Id, at 28-29.