Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Montana Supreme Court
by
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court declining to dismiss Plaintiff's wrongful discharge claim, holding that Plaintiff failed timely to file his complaint in the district court within the applicable statute of limitations. Plaintiff filed a claim against the City of Dillon and the Dillon Mayor (collectively, Defendants) alleging violation of the Wrongful Discharge of Employment Act (WDEA), Mont. Code Ann. 39-2-905. The City moved to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that Plaintiff's claims were barred by the statute of limitations. The district court denied the claim. The City then sought dismissal of the action as time barred by a way of summary judgment, which the district court denied. The jury ultimately found that Plaintiff was discharged without good cause and awarded damages of $75,612. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Plaintiff failed to timely file his complaint within the one-year limitation period, as required by the WDEA. View "Turner v. City of Dillon" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court allowed hundreds of former employees of W.R. Grace & Company's Zonolite Division in Libby (Grace) to continue their asbestos-related personal injury claims against Maryland Casualty Company (MCC), Grace's former workers' compensation insurance provider, holding that MCC owed Grace workers a direct common law duty under Restatement (Second) of Torts 324A(b)-(c) to use reasonable care under the circumstances to warn them of the known risk of exposure to airborne asbestos in certain Grace workplaces. The Supreme Court assumed supervisory control over proceedings pending before the Montana Asbestos Claims Court. Here the Court addressed on extraordinary review MCC's assertion that the district court erred in concluding that MCC owed a duty of care to warn third-party employees of Grace of a known risk of airborne asbestos exposure in or about Grace facilities in and about Libby, Montana between 1963 and 1970. The Supreme Court held that, based on MCC's affirmative assumption of employee-specific medical monitoring and Grace's reliance on MCC to perform that function, MCC owed Grace workers a legal duty to use reasonable care to warn them of the risk of airborne asbestos. View "Maryland Casualty Co. v. Asbestos Claims Court" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Central Montana Medical Center (CCMC) and dismissing Plaintiff's complaint alleging wrongful termination and violation of Mont. Code Ann. 39-2-904(1)(b) and (c) of the Wrongful Discharge from Employment Act, holding that the district court did not err. In granting summary judgment in favor of CCMC and denying Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, the district court determined that CMMC terminated Plaintiff's employment for good cause and that CMMC did not violate its express written policies when it terminated Plaintiff. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there were no genuine issues of material fact in this case, and CMMC was entitled to judgment as a matter of law. View "Putnam v. Central Montana Medical Center" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment for the Montana Department of Corrections (DOC) and dismissing Plaintiff's claims for wrongful discharge from employment, violation of Montana constitutional and administrative rights to privacy, and tortious defamation, holding that the district court did not err. Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) no genuine issues of material fact existed as to whether DOC discharged Plaintiff for good cause, and therefore, the district court properly granted summary judgment on Plaintiff's wrongful discharge claim; (2) no genuine issues of material fact existed as to whether DOC discharged Plaintiff in violation of its written personnel policy, and therefore, the district court properly granted summary judgment on Plaintiff's wrongful discharge claim; (3) the district court did not err in granting summary judgment on Plaintiff's claim that DOC violated her right to privacy under Mont. Const. art. II, 10 and Admin. R. M. 2.21.6615; and (4) the district court did not err in concluding that derogatory statements made by DOC to the Montana Peace Officer Standards and Training Council were privileged under Mont. Code Ann. 27-1-804(2). View "Speer v. State, Department of Corrections" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Roseburg Forest Products Company's motion to set aside default judgment, holding that the district court did not slightly abuse its discretion in denying Roseburg's motion to set aside default judgment. Jerome Frye, a former employee at Roseburg, filed a complaint alleging violations of the Wrongful Discharge from Employment Act. The clerk of court entered default against Roseburg after Roseburg did not file an appearance or an answer to the complaint with the district court. Roseburg later moved to set aside the entry of default judgment. The district court denied the motion, determining that Roseburg failed to proceed with diligence and that Roseburg's neglect was not excusable. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Roseburg's neglect in answering the complaint was not excusable. View "Frye v. Roseburg Forest Products Co." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court holding that Montana law precluded a jury trial on Plaintiff's federal discrimination claims even though federal law allows a jury trial for federal claims, holding that the district court erred when it concluded that Montana procedural law applied under the Montana Human Rights Act (MHRA) and denied Plaintiff a jury trial on his federal claims. Plaintiff, who has a visual disability, brought claims alleging that the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services engaged in intentional employment discrimination on the basis of his sex and/or disability, in violation of state and federal anti discrimination statutes. The district court concluded that state law precluded a jury trial on Plaintiff's federal discrimination claims because Montana's antidiscrimination statutes do not provide for a trial by jury and because state procedural rules govern procedures in state courts. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Plaintiff's claims were separate and distinct from his state law claims and that Plaintiff had a right to a jury trial on his federal claims in state district court. View "Spillers v. Third Judicial District Court" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the order of the Workers' Compensation Court (WCC) reversing in part and affirming in part the order of the Montana Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) directing Petitioner to attend a medical examination for a diagnostic update of Petitioner's medical problems attributable to his industrial injury, holding that the WCC erred. Specifically, the WCC held that New Hampshire must first authorize Petitioner to see a psychiatrist or psychologist before it could obtain a psychiatric examination pursuant to Mont. Code Ann. 39-71-605. New Hampshire provided workers' compensation insurance for Petitioner's employer. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) the WCC correctly held that Petitioner should not be compelled to attend a psychiatric examination before it was established that his complaints of insomnia and anxiety were causally related to his workers' compensation claim; but (2) the WCC erred in concluding that New Hampshire must pay for a medical examination and treatment of Petitioner's complaints before New Hampshire could obtain a section 605 exam. View "Neisinger v. New Hampshire Insurance Co." on Justia Law

by
In this appeal concerning whether the district court properly determined that the City of Billings (City) did not owe unpaid longevity or other unpaid wages to its police officers (Officers) the Supreme Court affirmed the court's longevity determination and remanded for consideration of the non-longevity claims applying the appropriate limitations and look-back periods. The Officers sued the City to recover unpaid wages, including longevity pay and other employment benefits, under the Wage Protection Act, Mont. Code Ann. 39-3-206. In a prior appeal, the Supreme Court remanded for a determination of whether the City owed the Officers unpaid longevity and other wages, penalties, costs and attorney fees. The district court granted summary judgment to the City, finding the longevity issue dispositive. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part, holding that the district court (1) correctly concluded that the City did not owe the Officers unpaid longevity; but (2) erred in dismissing without consideration the Officers' claims for non-longevity wage items and in declining to address the applicable statute of limitations, look-back period, and potential award of penalties, attorney fees and costs for those claims. View "Watters v. City of Billings" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court affirming in part and reversing in part a decision of the Department of Labor and Industry's Office of Administrative Hearings on Elizabeth Mays' wage claim against Sam's Inc., holding the district court's judgment was without error. Mays filed a wage claim against Sam's with the Montana Department of Labor and Industry, alleging that she was misclassified as an independent contract and was owed to employment wages for the hours she worked. After the Independent Contractor Central Unit determined that Mays was an employee the Wage and Hour Unit determined that Mays was owed $33.43 in wages. The district court reversed the agency's determinations that Sam's was entitled to an offset for Mays' tips and that Sam's was not required to pay a penalty. Mays appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court's order constituted a final order in a contested case for which judicial review was available; (2) the district court did not err by affirming the agency's determination of the terms of Mays' employment; and (3) the district court did not err by affirming the agency's finding that Sam's was not obligated to reimburse Mays for fees. View "Wage Claim of Mays v. Sam's Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court denying the motion to compel arbitration filed by Edwards Jones & Company, Jeremy Kientz, and Nick Ferranto (collectively, Edwards Jones) of post-termination claims asserted against them by former Edward Jones employee Adam Bucy, holding that Bucy's claims were mandatorily arbitrable and within the scope of the arbitration agreements. Bucy, who worked for Edward Jones for approximately nineteen years primarily as a financial advisor, was terminated after an internal review. Bucy filed a complaint against Edward Jones asserting claims for statutory blacklisting, statutory defamation, and common law tortious interference with a prospective business relationship. Edward Jones moved to dismiss and compel arbitration of Bucy's claims on the basis that they were subject to arbitration under Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (FINRA) and National Association of Securities Dealers, Inc. (NASD) regulations and two arbitration agreements between the parties. The district court denied arbitration of post-employment claims, concluding that the claims were not arbitrable within the scope of the arbitration agreements. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the arbitration agreements were valid and enforceable, that Bucy's claims were mandatorily arbitrable, and that the claims were within the scope of the arbitration agreements. View "Bucy v. Edward Jones & Co." on Justia Law