Wrongful Discharge

Experience

Secretary of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) v. Mid-America Mining

The U.S. issued a Section 105(c) citation to this Arkansas mining company, claiming that it fired its general manager after he has made formal complaints about the safety of the mine and its practices. This matter was settled on favorable terms to the client.

Abels v. Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical Corp. et al., (S.D. W.Va. 1993)

Co-counsel representing large aluminum manufacturers against class action claims filed on behalf of over 300 employees who were laid off and never recalled to work. The plaintiffs asserted that the defendants violated § 510 of ERISA by terminating them in order to prevent vesting of their employee benefit plans, and sought job reinstatement and massive awards damages for lost wages and lost benefits, as well as punitive damages. In ruling of the defendants’ pretrial motions, the court denied class certification, concluded that § 510 did not provide a right to extra-contractual relief or punitive damages in an ERISA action seeking enforcement through § 502(a), and held that the employees did not have a right to a jury trial. The parties then settled the case on terms viewed as very favorable by Kaiser and Ravenswood.

Allegations of Wrongful Termination by Ex-Employee of Medical Device Manufacturer

When a medical device manufacturer faced allegations of wrongful termination from an ex-employee, they turned to Dinsmore. The plaintiff was an engineer who was originally hired by the client to serve as a project manager. Upon hiring the plaintiff, the terms of his employment were laid out in an employment contract, which also contained deadlines for the completion of various projects. After nearly a year of employment, it was determined that the plaintiff had not met the required deadlines, and he was terminated. The plaintiff alleged he was wrongfully terminated and filed 10 claims against the client, including alleged violation of public policy, breach of contract and age discrimination. We filed a motion for summary judgment, which was granted on nine claims. For the remaining claim of violation of a public policy, we prepared the matter for trial, including managing discovery and taking depositions. On the first day of the trial, before proceedings officially began, we negotiated a settlement favorable to our client, enabling them to avoid litigation.

Baron v. Watson Pharms., Inc.

Breach of Employment Contract, Wrongful Discharge in Violation of Public Policy, and Age and Disability Discrimination. The total amount at issue was in excess of $100,000. The district court dismissed Plaintiff Complaint on summary judgment finding that plaintiff failed to establish he had an employment contract and failed to establish that he reasonably and detrimentally relied on any promises by Watson that his employment would be for a specific duration. The court also found that Plaintiff was not disabled even though he had a heart attack.

Bell v. Ashland Oil, Inc.(S.D. W.Va. 1998)

Co-counsel defending Ashland Oil against claims initiated by a former refinery engineer who was terminated from his employment after the company found that he had engaged in conduct in violation of its sexual harassment policy. The plaintiff asserted claims against Ashland Oil for wrongful discharge in violation of West Virginia public policy, defamation and fraud. Following cross examination of the plaintiff on the first day of trial, the court invited us to move for a directed verdict. To avoid that result, the plaintiff voluntarily dismissed his claims and trial was concluded.

Christine Skidmore v. Affordable Denture Laboratories

The plaintiff claimed she was the subject of sexual harassment and a hostile work environment created by the lewd comments, dirty jokes and sexual overtures from her supervisor; that her complaints were ignored; and that she was thereafter constructively discharged. This case was settled on favorable terms to the client.

Cornell v. General Electric Plastics, 853 F. Supp. 221 (S.D. W. Va. 1994)

Lead counsel defending GE against claims by a former female employee, who, after being fired following 18 years of employment, alleged sex discrimination claims under 42 U.S.C.S. § 1981, Title VII, and the West Virginia Human Rights Act. The Court granted summary judgment to GE on all claims, finding that § 1981 applied to racial but not sexual discrimination, rejecting the Title VII claim because the plaintiff had not first unsuccessfully pursued her state administrative remedies, and dismissing her claim under the Human Rights Act because she could not submit any evidence contradicting GE’s evidence suggesting poor work performance as the reason for her discharge.

Defended against claims of wrongful discharge and defamation stemming from sexual harassment investigation

An employee of our client Pamida, a former chain of department stores, was terminated following an investigation into claims of sexual harassment. The employee alleged that he was terminated as a result of reporting his concerns about “waste, fraud and abuse,” including the sale of out-dated over-the-counter medicine, and he filed a suit against our client claiming wrongful discharge in violation of public policy and defamation resulting from the investigation. We thoroughly investigated the claims, and determined that the employee’s termination was valid. We then obtained summary judgment on all the claims. Stargle v. Pamida, Inc., 2007 U.S. District LEXIS 50579 (W.D. Ky. 2007).

Defended Jewish Hospital against allegations of wrongful discharge

We represented Jewish Hospital when a former certified respiratory therapist, also performing echo cardiograms, alleged that her termination was retaliation for her reporting of a change in her work schedule that she alleged would cause her to perform services that jeopardized her state certification. Summary judgment was obtained on the wrongful discharge public policy claim and later upheld in the Kentucky Court of Appeals for our client. Following the ruling by the Kentucky Court of Appeals, the plaintiff filed for discretionary review with the Kentucky Supreme Court, but was denied. Russell v. Jewish Hospital, 2004 Ky. App. Unpublished LEXIS 890 (Ky. App. 2004)

Defense Verdict in Race Hostile Work Environment Claim

The plaintiff was an 11-year employee of a manufacturing company who was terminated for violation of the Company’s attendance policy after he failed to submit required documentation. The plaintiff filed suit under Kentucky’s Civil Rights Act, KRS Chapter 344, alleging that he was terminated due to his race and for complaining about race discrimination, as well as forced to work in unsafe working conditions and subjected to disparate disciplinary action. He also alleged a hostile work environment claim, relying on what he claimed to be widespread racial graffiti throughout the plant and restrooms, as well as the presence of “nooses” on two different occasions.

Following discovery, the company filed a motion for summary judgment on plaintiff’s claims in their entirety. The Court dismissed the plaintiff’s claim that he had been terminated due to his race or in retaliation for complaining about race discrimination inasmuch as he was unable to rebut the employer's legitimate business reason for his termination. In addition, the Court dismissed the plaintiff’s claims that he and other minority employees had been forced to work in unsafe working conditions as barred due to his failure to pursue his administrative remedy and because he lacked evidence that minority employees were singled out.

In February 2012, the case was tried in Jefferson Circuit Court on the plaintiff’s remaining claim that he was subjected to a racially hostile work environment. The Company presented proof that nearly 20% of its workforce is African-American and that almost half of those employees had worked for the Company for over 15 years. The manufacturer also put on evidence of its zero tolerance for harassment of any kind. Following a two-day trial which included testimony of seven witnesses, the 12-person jury found unanimously in favor of the company on the plaintiff’s claim that he had been subjected to a hostile work environment due to the presence of rope nooses and racial graffiti. After the trial court denied a motion for a new trial, plaintiff appealed the jury verdict to the Kentucky Court of Appeals, but voluntarily dismissed his appeal before filing his brief, concluding this matter.

Donald Perkins v. Chemed Corporation, Franklin County Court of Common Pleas

Represented client in a case against executives violating a convenant not to compete. Successfully obtained restraining order and royalty payments from competing business.

Fisher v. AT&T Mobility, LLC, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 91291 (S.D. W. Va. 2008)

Lead counsel for AT&T in litigation alleging that the plaintiff had been subjected to a hostile work environment based on her sex, and was constructively discharged when she was forced to resign from her employment in violation of the West Virginia Human Rights Act. AT&T sought summary judgment on grounds that the plaintiff had failed to show that the conduct alleged to create a hostile environment was gender-based, and further that she has failed to establish that her working conditions were so intolerable that a reasonable person would feel compelled to quit. Summary judgment was granted to AT&T.

Graessle v. Nationwide Credit, Inc., et al, S.D. Ohio

Plaintiff brought an age and religious discrimination suit and breach of contract suit against Nationwide Credit Inc., following a reduction in force. Plaintiff brought a second suit against client for fraudulent inducement in state court to circumvent failure to amend complaint in original federal action. The total amount at issue was $300,000. The first suit was dismissed on summary judgment in favor of NCI and settled on appeal to the Sixth Circuit. The second suit was removed from state court to federal court and the case was dismissed under the first to file rule. The second lawsuit was dismissed without the client having to expend significant resources in discovery.

John Kelly v. Westbrook Country Club, et al., Richland County Court of Common Pleas

Successfully defended Country Club where Plaintiff alleged wrongful termination, violation of contract, wrongful discharge, conversion and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Linda Brown v. Large National Insurance Company

Our firm defended a large national insurance company in a disability discrimination and wrongful discharge lawsuit where the plaintiff alleged she was fired because of a disability and/or in retaliation for complaints about company claim handling practices. A summary judgment was entered and a subsequent appeal was dismissed by the Kentucky Court of Appeals.

Loughlin v. Regis Corp., (Ohio County, WV 10-C-230 (2012))

Lead counsel in defense of Regis in a class action claim alleging that, for a period of five years, it failed to issue final paychecks to former involuntarily discharged employees within 72 hours as required by the West Virginia Wage Payment and Collection Act. At issue are complex questions as to numerosity, commonality and typicality of the claims and defenses of the class, as well as the proper method for determining reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs potentially payable to class counsel. This matter remains in active litigation.

McDowell v. GE Pension Plan, S.D. Ohio

Breach of Employment Contract, Wrongful Discharge in Violation of Public Policy, and Age and Disability Discrimination. The total amount at issue was in excess of $100,000. Dismissed upon motion for summary judgment. In granting GE summary judgment, the court concluded that the pension board was not arbitrary or capricious in its determination that the injured party was capable of performing her occupation as a value engineer. The injured party carried the burden of establishing that she was permanently incapacitated for work as a value engineer. The overwhelming evidence before the pension board indicated that the injured party was able to resume work as a value engineer and specified that she was not permanently disabled. The court also concluded that, contrary to the injured party's contention, the pension board was not obligated to follow the Social Security Administration's decision to award the injured party total and permanent disability benefits.

Miller v. AT&T Corp., 83 F. Supp. 2d 700 (S.D. W.Va. 2000), aff’d, 250 F.3d 820 (4th Cir. 2001)

Lead counsel in case in which the plaintiff was terminated from her employment by AT&T for excessive absences due to plaintiff's and spouse's illnesses. After her termination, the plaintiff brought suit under the Family and Medical Leave Act and moved for partial summary judgment, which was granted. A trial was subsequently held to determine damages, the issues being whether plaintiff was entitled to back pay, front pay, and liquidated damages. The court ordered that plaintiff be paid back pay with interest, but adopted AT&T’s argument that the speculative nature of front pay made reinstatement a more appropriate remedy. Further, the court found that AT&T had acted in good faith and with reasonable grounds to believe that it acted properly, and thus that liquidated damages were not awardable.

Patrick v. Ferguson, Inc.

Federal District Court, Southern District of Ohio, granted summary judgement motion in favor of Ferguson, dismissing Plaintiff's age discriminaiton claims. 

Rita Waldridge v. Feather, Inc.

Defended a claim of sexural harassment, retaliation, and constructive discharge against a restaurant franchisee arising from the act of a supervisor. This claim was settled on favorable terms after the verdict in Sue Spencer v. Feather, Inc.

Shepherd v. Rite Aid of West Virginia, Inc.

We obtained summary judgment in a case involving the Plaintiff, who claimed that she was discriminated against on the basis of her gender, race, and that she was wrongfully terminated in violation of public policy after failing a drug test. She alleged that the drug test itself was against public policy concerning drug testing of current employees. The circuit court granted our client summary judgment on the wrongful termination issues. The Plaintiff then filed a writ of mandamus, requesting that the Supreme Court of Appeals in West Virginia accept the appeal. the Court, 5-0, rejected the Plaintiff's request. Because the gender and race claims hinged on the wrongful termination claim, the Plaintiff dismissed those claims.

Theresa Russell v. Jewish Hospital

The plaintiff claimed she was constructively discharged by the hospital for refusing to perform ecocardiographs which she claimed were intrusive procedures which would constitute a violation of her license as a respiratory therapist, and thus against Kentucky public policy. The client received a summary judgement from the trial court, which was upheld on appeal after oral argument.

Walsh v. Emery Worldwide Airlines, S.D. Ohio

Plaintiff, who was a pilot for Emery World wide Airlines, alleged he was terminated in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The total amount at issue was in excess of $100,000. The case was tried to a jury, which returned a defense verdict dismissing the entire case.

Xi v. Procter & Gamble Co.

Won summary judgment in the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas against claims for wrongful termination against public policy and under the Ohio Whistleblower Act.