Sheehan & Associates, P.L.C.

Appeal court dismisses wrongful termination suit

On May 27, a Michigan appeal court dismissed a wrongful termination lawsuit and ruled in favor of the employer. The judge said no evidence proved the union prevented a Lenawee County Dispatch Center director from filing a grievance.

In 2011, the non-union employee originally attempted to prove that the union stopped him from trying to file a grievance. The worker also said that the Sheriff's Department union would not represent him. In 2012, a judge denied a dismissal motion. The court said the employee had substantial evidence demonstrating the employer illegally fired him. The panel who dropped the former director's case said this should have been dismissed in Lenawee County Court, which was where the hearing took place two years ago.

The Michigan Employment Relationship Commission ruled that the county violated a union contract by hiring a non-union employee. However, the local judicial system still ruled that the independent employee hired as a director was required to follow through with standard grievance procedures. Since the former worker did not file a formal grievance, he could not prove he was fired without just cause. The court also said the director failed to undergo this process before filing his lawsuit three years ago.

If the former employee would have followed through with the grievance procedure, the judge may have ruled in his favor. However, the issue of violating a union contract also needed resolution. Even if the Sheriff's office didn't follow all union rules when hiring a non-union director, however, it still has a formal complaint policy. Without proper evidence or failure to follow policy, employment litigation is often dismissed.

Source: Lenconnect.com, "Lawsuit blocked in dispute over firing of county dispatch director ", Dennis Pelham, May 30, 2014

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