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Retaliatory Discharge

Register v. Outdoor Aluminum, Inc., [Ms. 1200181, May 7, 2021], ___ So. 3d ___ (Ala. 2021). The Court (Bolin, J.; Shaw, Wise, Bryan, Mendheim, and Stewart, JJ., concur; Sellers, J., concurs in the result; Parker, C.J., dissents; and Mitchell, J., recuses) reverses the Geneva Circuit Court’s summary judgment dismissing Laura Register’s retaliatory discharge claim asserted pursuant to § 25-5-11.1, Ala. Code 1975. Noting that the applicable standard of review required it to view the evidence in a light most favorable to Register, the Court holds

…There are genuine issues of material fact that should be resolved by a jury, including (1) whether Outdoor Aluminum reserved the right to skip steps in its disciplinary process and whether Register understood whether it had the discretion to do so;(2) whether the e-mail exchange between Rose [Register’s supervisor] and Redding [nurse case manager ] shows a negative attitude toward Register’s workers’ compensation claim and whether Redding advised Rose that Register should have already returned to work before she was discharged; (3) whether Outdoor Aluminum was aware, or should have been aware, of Dr. Cosper’s restriction on Register’s returning to work; (4) and whether Rose was looking for a reason to discharge Register for maintaining her workers’ compensation claim. In regard to issue(4), Outdoor Aluminum’s express reason for discharging Register was absenteeism, even though Outdoor Aluminum’s approved treating physician determined that Register should not return to work until July 27, 2017. A jury should determine whether absenteeism was a pretextual reason for the discharge.

Ms. **20-21.

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