Paul Peterson, an honorably discharged military veteran, worked for Walmart as an over-the-road trucker for ten years. During that time, he received excellent performance reviews, and numerous awards from the company for logging hundreds of thousands of miles without an accident and coming to the rescue of a fellow driver.
On November 11, 2012, Mr. Peterson was working for Walmart , when he tripped and fell in the company parking lot, seriously injuring his hand. He required two surgeries, and it was 10 ½ months before he was medically cleared to resume truck driving. Walmart conceded that Mr. Peterson’s injury was work-related, but disciplined him for the injury.
Mr. Peterson was back at work for only two weeks after the lengthy absence when Walmart fired him. The company claimed an incident occurring only one week following his return justified his termination, in which he allegedly made an improper refueling stop .
Represented by Hawks Quindel, Mr. Peterson brought an unreasonable refusal to rehire claim under Wisconsin’s Workers Compensation Act, which protects workers from being fired for suffering work injuries.
After a hearing, Administrative Law Judge Roberta Arnold found in Mr. Peterson’s favor and ordered Walmart to pay him one year’s wages, or $77,000.04.
In her decision, Judge Arnold noted Mr. Peterson’s “consistently good annual performance reviews . . . and numerous awards.” She observed that Walmart was given an opportunity at the hearing to present written policies justifying its termination of Mr. Peterson, but instead only offered after-the-fact written statements and testimony designed to justify its actions. She concluded that Walmart’s stated reasons for firing Mr. Peterson were “baseless” and that Walmart failed to follow its own rules in terminating him. A copy of Judge Arnold’s decision can be found here .
Mr. Peterson was represented by Attorneys Aaron N. Halstead and Matthew D. Robles.
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