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Fired employee can sue supervisors, even if Delta College is dismissed based on pre-employment contract

Frances Hoogland sued several of her supervisors at Delta College after she was terminated.  She claimed that they fired her in retaliation for filing a sexual harassment/discrimination claim.  The supervisors argued that under Hoogland's contract with Delta College, she was required to bring an action within 180 days; they claimed that they should be entitled to the same protection.  They also claimed that the dismissal of Hoogland's claim against Delta, based on the same time limitation, should constitute a ruling on their claims, as well.

The Court of Appeals ruled that under Michigan court precedent, the contract with Delta must be interpreted to limit the "third-party beneficiaries" so as to NOT include the supervising individuals.  Under prior caselaw, these strangers to the contract could ask for its benefits only to the extent they were members of a clearly-defined class of beneficiaries.  The language cited by the defendants described "all claims" that could be pursued against Delta--not the extent of the class of people protected.

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