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Wrongful discharge claim is time-barred

In Flanagan v. Comau Pico, et al., the plaintiff filed suit 23 months after his termination by defendants, claiming that the parties' Wisne Shop Employee Handbook created a legitimate expectation of just cause employment. (In appropriate cases, a graduated discipline policy or promises of continued employment intended to encourage productivity can create an implied promise of just-cause termination, only.) 

The trial court noted that under tort "reform" decisions of the Michigan Supreme Court, the public policy of Michigan presumes that all employees are "at will" and may be fired without cause.  The Defendant argued this Michigan law should apply, and the trial court agreed, holding that Flanagan had not overcome the "at-will" presumption. This decision was appealed.

The plaintiff originally maintained that Michigan law should not apply, and that section 301 of the federal Labor-Management Relations Act, 29 USC 185a, should control the interpretation of the parties' agreement.  The case was appealed to the Court of Appeals after the lower court held that the LMRA did not apply to the parties' employment handbook because it had been waived.  The Appellate Court concluded that the parties could not waive section 301 of the Act, and returned the case to the lower court.

Sadly, when the plaintiff achieved its goal of applying Federal law, he was "hoisted by his own petard."  The courts concluded that his case should be dismissed for failing to comply with the federal six-month statute of limitations and the requirement that he exhaust administrative remedies prior to filing suit.

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