Earlier this week, the Minnesota Court of Appeals issued a decision in Dukowitz v. Hannon Security Services. In 2010, Ms. Dukowitz filed a lawsuit alleging she was terminated in retaliation for applying for unemployment benefits which is against public policy, and she had an implied right to bring a private cause of action against her former employer. Both the District Court and the Court of Appeals found in favor of Hannon Security Services.
Ms. Dukowitz was employed as a security officer from November 2005 until her termination on March 13, 2009. In 2008, she was offered and accepted a seasonal position with daytime hours. In December 2008, she learned the seasonal position would be ending. She told her supervisor she would have to apply for unemployment benefits. It was then agreed she would be allowed to work shifts as they became available. She was terminated from her position March 13, 2009.
The Court of Appeals determined the Minnesota Supreme Court has recognized a narrow exception to the general at-will employment rule, that exception being an employer may be liable for wrongful discharge if it terminates an employment relationship because of an employee’s refusal to violate the law. The Court of Appeals ruled Ms. Dukowitz’s claims did not fall within the exception set forth by the Supreme Court. The Court of Appeals also disregarded Ms. Dukowitz other claim she had an implied right to a private cause of action. The state unemployment statute includes a criminal remedy for conduct which occurs that is proscribed by the statute.
Hannon Security Services prevailed on all counts before the Court of Appeals including an award of costs and disbursements against Ms. Dukowitz. This is a unique and fact-specific case, which should have never been filed in the first place. It is nice to see the Employer prevailed in this matter.