Appeals Court overturns summary disposition of employee's wrongful termination claim arising out of alleged retaliation.
In Berry v. In Your Golden Years, LLC, the plaintiff, a home health aide, alleged that she was fired one year after instigating an overtime investigation. The lower court summarily ruled that she could not allege wrongful retaliation in the reduction of her hours or in the change of policy requiring her to wait 24 hours to receive her paycheck. The lower court deemed these changes in working conditions to be a "mere inconvenience" and not actionable, and granted summary disposition to her employer.
The Court of Appeals reversed. It pointed out that there was corroborated evidence of a retaliatory motive in making the above changes and then terminating the Plaintiff 12 months later. It pointed out that there was documented evidence suggesting an intent by the employer to punish Berry for protected activity and a plan to document post-activity negative evaluations for 12 months prior to discharge. It noted that the employer had allegedly stated that "Paybacks are Hell," and expressed to co-workers and intent to discharge the Plaintiff. Given this supporting evidence, it was an error to summarily discharge the aide's claim: a jury question of material fact had been raised.