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Fired Injured Worker Wins Case Against Wal-Mart

The NC Court of Appeals released its decision on March 19, 2013 in Antelo v. Wal-Mart Associates, Inc.,  COA12-846.   In this case, Wal-Mart had argued that it should not have to pay Mr. Antelo temporary total disability benefits after firing him for “misconduct.”   His alleged “misconduct” was taking a cigarette break with his supervisor’s permission, some time after he suffered a workers’ compensation injury.   The Industrial Commission found after a hearing and appeal that Mr. Antelo did not engage in any misconduct, and that Wal-Mart failed to prove that he did.   Mr. Antelo had performed a reasonable job search while being restricted due to his injuries, so the Industrial Commission ordered Wal-Mart to keep paying benefits.  Wal-Mart appealed but was slapped down by the Court of Appeals in an unanimous decision that upheld the Commission’s ruling.  The Court of Appeals pointed out that under the law, Wal-Mart had the burden of proving that Mr. Antelo engaged in misconduct that justified the firing, and Wal-Mart failed to carry its burden of persuasion on that point.   The decision is unpublished and cannot be used as controlling authority, but even so, it represents justice for an man who was fired after getting hurt at work.  

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