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Fired at Target for Worker’s Comp Claim?

(CN) - Target fired a woman who hurt her back on the job because she filed for worker's compensation benefits, she claims in court.

Markeisha Smith says the injury occurred in November 2013 while she was moving a box to stock merchandise at the Target on Biscayne Boulevard in Aventura, Fla., where she had worked since July 2012.

Though Smith wanted to resume working her normal hours of approximately 35 to 40 hours a week, Target "abruptly lowered plaintiff's hours to 11.5 hours per week," according to the complaint filed on Dec. 30 in Miami-Dade County's 11th Judicial Circuit.

Smith says she used a back brace after her injury and filed her first petition for benefits on Dec. 16, 2013, for treatment with an orthopedic doctor.

When Smith became pregnant in May 2014, she requested a leave of absence on advice from her doctor, but Target refused, according to the complaint.

"The defendant wanted to rid itself of plaintiff after she got hurt on the job," the complaint states. "The evidence is in the defendant's actions of denying a legitimate leave of absence concurrently with drastic reductions in plaintiff's work hours."

Target managers and supervisors also began treating Smith differently, according to the complaint, which notes that they brought "up the subject of her worker's compensation attorney."

A human resources manager allegedly advised Smith to "talk to her lawyer" about why her hours were being cut.

Smith says she overheard two managers discussing that "plaintiff was lying about her injury on the job."

One supervisor explicitly told Smith "that management did not believe plaintiff had really gotten hurt," according to the complaint.

Smith says she filed another petition for benefits in June 2014 for indemnity payments.

Though Smith "wanted to work for the defendant for another 15 years," she received a phone call from the company in August 2014, firing her.

Smith says she had earned $8.64 an hour at Target for the two years she worked there.

She spent two months unemployed this year, before a 7-11 hired her for $8 an hour.

Alleging retaliatory discharge and emotional distress, Smith seeks $68,198.40 in damages, consisting of three times what she is owed for the salary she should have received during two months of unemployment, plus the difference in salary at her new job.

Smith is represented by Joseph Perea of the Law Office of Richard Zaldivar.


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