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Ohio Employee Fired for Conduct can still Receive Disability Benefits

In State of Ohio ex rel. State University Cancer Research Hospital vs. Industrial Commission of Ohio, an Ohio appeals court ruled that a worker could continue to receive workers compensation benefits, even though he had recently fired following sexual harassment accusations.

In early 2009, the worker in question suffered a lower back injury. Two months later, while working in a transitional role, he was fired for “conduct unbecoming of a medical center employee” and for “violation of university policy.” Prior to his termination, the employee had been under investigation for sexual harassment complaints supposed to have occurred during the four-year period between 2004 and 2008.

After being fired, the employee sought and was granted temporary total disability benefits from an Industrial Commission hearing officer for the back injury he had sustained in January 2009, after the period of time included in the harassment investigation.

The medical center attempted to deny these benefits, claiming that the fired employee acted outside of his position, voluntarily abandoning his roles and responsibilities, when he partook in the actions that led to his termination.

In finding for the fired employee, the 10th Appellate District Court claimed that the “infractions occurred prior to the injury and the employer presented no evidence the claimant violated work rules while performing transitional work duty.”

With the harassment charges and work accident seemingly separated completely, the court of appeals found that the fired employee was entitled to workers compensation benefits for his injuries.

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