Justia Minnesota Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Labor & Employment Law
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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the determination of the district court that the underlying First Amendment retaliation claim brought under 42 U.S.C. 1983 was time-barred, holding that the continuing violation doctrine did not apply to toll the statute of limitations.Plaintiff brought this action alleging that Defendant, the City of Duluth, retaliated against him in violation of his rights under the First Amendment by making false statements and engaging in other negative conduct toward him. In dismissing the claim, the trial court rejected Plaintiff's reliance on the continuing violation doctrine. The court of appeals reversed and reinstated Plaintiff's section 1983 retaliation claim against the City, concluding that the continuing violation doctrine did not apply because the acts Plaintiff alleged as retaliation were discrete acts that were actionable when committed and therefore did not constitute a continuing violation that tolled the statute of limitations. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the continuing violation doctrine did not apply in this case. View "Ringsred v. City of Duluth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversed the judgment of the district court denying Hennepin Healthcare System, Inc.'s motion to vacate an arbitration award in favor of AFSCME Minnesota Council 5, holding that the court of appeals erroneously substituted its own judgment for that of the arbitrator.Hennepin Healthcare and AFSCME, which represented two bargaining units of Hennepin Healthcare employees, arbitrated a dispute regarding Hennepin Healthcare's use of temporary staffing agency workers. The arbitrator issued an award in favor of AFSCME. The district court confirmed the award. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that because the arbitration award did not draw its essence from the collective bargaining agreement it must be vacated. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Hennepin Healthcare failed to meet its burden to demonstrate that the arbitrator clearly exceeded the powers granted to him in the CBA because the award failed the essence test. View "Hennepin Healthcare System, Inc. v. AFSCME Minnesota Council 5, Union" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the workers' compensation court of appeals (WCCA) affirming the findings and conclusions of the compensation judge determining that Employee was entitled to workers' compensation benefits because of her Gillette injury, holding that the WCCA's affirmance of the compensation judge's findings was not manifestly contrary to the evidence.Employee filed a claim petition alleging that she sustained a Gillette injury and sought workers' compensation benefits. The compensation judge ordered Employer to pay Employee benefits. The WCCA affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the WCCA's findings, including the date Employee's injury occurred, when Employee was required to notify Employer of her injury, and the calculation of Employe's post-injury earning capacity, were not manifestly contrary to the evidence. View "Schmidt v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc." on Justia Law

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In this appeal arising out of the application of a provision of the Minnesota Workers' Compensation Act known as the "assault exception" the Supreme Court held that the assault exception applied and that Relator Deangelo Profit was not entitled to recover workers' compensation benefits under the circumstances of this case.Profit suffered serious injuries when he was attacked at his job site by a mentally ill acquaintance while he was performing his work injuries. Profit sought workers' compensation benefits under Minn. Stat. 176.021, subd. 1, which are to awarded in cases "of personal injury or death of an employee arising out of and in the course of employment." The Workers' Compensation Court of Appeals concluded that Profit was not entitled to recover benefits under the assault exception. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the assault exception did not apply where the assailant "intended to injure [Profit] because of personal reasons" and his acts were "not directed against the employee as an employee, or because of the employment." View "Profit v. HRT Holdings" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that Claimant was not entitled to workers' compensation benefits after the date on which he no longer had a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by a licensed professional using the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).From 2007 to 2020 Claimant was employed as a Mower County Deputy Sheriff. From September 25, 2019 to March 30, 2021, Claimant had a diagnosis of PTSD by a licensed professional, making him eligible for workers' compensation benefits. In this action, Claimant argued that he was entitled to benefits after March 30, 2021, the date that he no longer had a diagnosis of PTSD, because he remained disabled from a mental illness. The compensation court awarded benefits from April 1, 2020 into the present. The court of appeals reversed in part, concluding that Claimant was not entitled to benefits after March 30, 2021. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Claimant was not entitled to workers' compensation benefits after March 30, 2021. View "Chrz v. Mower County" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the court of appeals reversing in part and affirming in part the district court's grant of summary judgment for Defendant, a school district, in this employment dispute, holding that summary judgment was properly granted on all of Plaintiff's claims.Plaintiff brought this action alleging that the suffered a hostile work environment and disparate treatment culminating in constructive discharge during her employment with Defendant. The district court granted Defendant's motion for summary judgment on both claims. The court of appeals reversed in part, concluding that Plaintiff had "presented sufficient evidence of disparate-treatment age discrimination to withstand summary judgment[.]" The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that Plaintiff established a genuine issue of material fact as to whether she suffered an adverse employment action in the form of constructive discharge. View "Henry v. Independent School District #625" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the ruling of Workers' Compensation Court of Appeals (WCCA) that Respondent was entitled to workers' compensation benefits, holding that Respondent was not entitled to relief on his claims on appeal.A licensed psychologist diagnosed Respondent, a former deputy sheriff for Carlton County, with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A compensation judge ruled that Respondent was not entitled to workers' compensation benefits because a subsequent psychological evaluation requested by the County resulted in a diagnosis of major depressive disorder but not PTSD. The WCCA reversed, holding (1) under Minn. Stat. 176.011, subd. 15(e), deputy sheriffs are entitled to a presumption that PTSD is an occupational disease if they present a diagnosis of PTSD, regardless of whether their employer offers a competing diagnosis; and (2) Respondent was entitled to the benefit of the presumption that he had a compensable occupational disease, and the County failed to rebut the presumption. View "Juntunen v. Carlton County" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Workers' Compensation Court of Appeals (WCCA) reversing the rulings of the compensation judge finding that C. Jeremy Lagasse was entitled to contingent fees under Minn. Stat. 176.081, subd. 1(c) and that Larry Horton was entitled to partial reimbursement of fees under Minn. Stat. 176.081, subd. 7, holding that the WCCA incorrectly applied subdivision 1(c) in its standard of review.Horton, who was injured during his employment with Aspen Waste Systems and sought permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits through Aspen's insurer (Insurer), retained Lagasse to represent him in the matter. The compensation judge determined that Lagasse was entitled to contingent fees and that Horton was entitled to partial reimbursement of fees. The WCCA reversed. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding (1) the WCCA incorrectly applied subdivision 1(c); and (2) the compensation judge and the WCCA incorrectly applied subdivision 7. View "Lagasse v. Horton" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals holding that decisions made under Minn. Stat. 43A.33 are quasi-judicial administrative decisions subject to certiorari review by the court but reversed its holding that the Bureau of Mediation Services was a proper party to the appeal, holding that the Bureau was not a proper party to the certiorari appeal.When the Minnesota Department of Corrections sought certiorari review of an arbitrator's decision granting Appellant's appeal from the discharge of his employment at the Minnesota Department of Corrections, Appellant challenged the court of appeals' jurisdiction to hear the appeal, arguing that review must be undertaken by the district court. The court of appeals upheld the arbitrator's decision. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) Appellant and the Department were not parties to an arbitration agreement that invoked the judicial review procedures of the Uniform Arbitration Act; (2) the decision of an arbitrator appointed according to section 43A.33 is a quasi-judicial determination of an inferior tribunal reviewable via writ of certiorari at the court of appeals; and (3) the Bureau was not a proper party to this appeal because it had no legal or equitable interest in the outcome. View "Minn. Department of Corrections v. Knutson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the decision of the Workers' Compensation Court of Appeals (WCCA) affirming the decision of the compensation judge finding that Respondent sustained an occupational disease of hearing loss and ordering Relator to pay medical benefits under Minn. Stat. 176.135, subd. 5, holding that further proceedings were required.Respondent developed hearing loss after a career of handling occupational safety and health compliance and monitoring workplace noise levels. Respondent filed a claim for workers' compensation benefits against Relator, his most recent employer. The compensation judge ruled in favor of Respondent and denied his claim for permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits. The WCCA affirmed and clarified that the PPD issue was moot because of a Pierringer settlement between Respondent and one of his former employers. The Supreme Court remanded the case, holding (1) the occupational disease finding was supported by the evidence; (2) the award of medical benefits was appropriate under Minn. Stat. 176.135, subd. 5; and (3) the compensation judge did not properly apply the Pierringer settlement precedent, potentially prejudicing Relator's interests. View "Sershen v. Metropolitan Council" on Justia Law