Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Montana Supreme Court
Frye v. Roseburg Forest Products Co.
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
Spillers v. Third Judicial District Court
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
Neisinger v. New Hampshire Insurance Co.
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
Watters v. City of Billings
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
Wage Claim of Mays v. Sam’s Inc.
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
Bucy v. Edward Jones & Co.
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
Richardson v. Indemnity Insurance Co. of N.A.
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Workers' Compensation Court (WCC) granting summary judgment to Indemnity Insurance Company of North America on Brian Richardson's petition arguing that he was entitled to have Indemnity accept his claim for workers' compensation benefits, holding that the WCC correctly held that Richardson had not timely filed a written claim for benefits under Mont. Code Ann. 39-71-601. Richardson filed his claim for benefits almost four years after the alleged work-related accident. Indemnity denied Richardson's claim on the grounds that Richardson had failed to provide his employer with timely notice and that he had failed timely to file his claim. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Richardson failed to file a timely written claim under section 39-71-601. View "Richardson v. Indemnity Insurance Co. of N.A." on Justia Law
KB Enterprises, LLC v. Montana Human Rights Commission
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court affirming the final agency decision issued by the Montana Human Rights Commission (HRC) finding that Jerry James Bright was subjected to racial discrimination in his employment KB Enterprises, LLC, d/b/a Snappitz (KB), holding the district court correctly affirmed the final agency decision and dismissed KB's petition for judicial review. On appeal, KB argued that the hearing officer made numerous incorrect findings of fact and that the HRC and district court wrongly upheld the hearing officer's decision. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the hearing officer's findings of fact were not clearly erroneous and did not misapprehend the effect of evidence and that no mistake was made. View "KB Enterprises, LLC v. Montana Human Rights Commission" on Justia Law
Bollinger v. Billings Clinic
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court affirming the Montana Department of Labor and Industry’s Human Rights Bureau’s (HRB) decision concluding that Ronis Bollinger was properly terminated from her employment with the Billings Clinic, holding that the district court did not err in upholding Bollinger’s termination from employment because she failed to demonstrate that the Clinic retaliated against her for engaging in protected activity. Bollinger filed this complaint asserting that her history of discipline and investigative interactions with the Clinic demonstrated a retaliatory motive that caused or contributed to the Clinic’s decision to terminate her employment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not err in upholding the hearing officer’s conclusion that Bollinger was properly terminated by the Clinic for her dishonesty; (2) did not err in upholding the HRB's denial of Bollinger’s motion to compel Clinic production of certain emails; and (3) did not abuse its discretion in awarding costs to the Clinic. View "Bollinger v. Billings Clinic" on Justia Law
Jackson v. Costco Wholesale
The Supreme Court affirmed an order of the district court affirming the Human Rights Commission’s decision granting summary judgment in favor of Costco Wholesale Corporation and dismissing Plaintiff’s claim of unlawful discrimination in employment on the basis of a disability and failure to make reasonable accommodation, holding that the district court did not err in affirming the Commission’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Costco where Costco rebutted Plaintiff’s prima facie case of discrimination with evidence that it terminated his employment for legitimate business reasons that were not a pretext for discrimination. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that Costco terminated him for conduct resulting from a disability, which cannot qualify as a legitimate, nondiscriminatory basis for termination. The Supreme Judicial Court disagreed, holding that Costco came forward with a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for terminating Plaintiff. View "Jackson v. Costco Wholesale" on Justia Law