WI Supreme Court Upholds Decision in Favor of Employees Fired By Employers Looking to Avoid Benefit Payments

This Wisconsin State Bar article describes a recent WI Supreme Court case, US Bank, the outcome of which I think is very helpful for diverse employee benefits situations.  The WI SC was split (the even # was due to Justice Annette Ziegler not participating), and the appellate decision in favor of the employee thus stands.

The upheld appellate holding: “an at will employee does not forfeit benefits [in this case, a vested sales-related bonus per a bonus plan] that have accrued during his or her employment even though the agreement governing those benefits conditions their receipt on the employee’s continued employment if the employer fires the employee solely to prevent the employee from getting the accrued benefits.”

The appellate court (full decision here) relatedly found:

While it is true, as U.S. Bank argues, that in the at-will-employee context there is no “duty to terminate in good faith,” Brockmeyer v. Dun & Bradstreet, 113 Wis. 2d 561, 564, 569, 335 N.W.2d 834, 836, 838 (1983) (at-will employee) (emphasis added), the requirement that parties act in “good faith” inheres in every contract and, therefore, an employer must comply in good faith with its “contractual obligations,” Hale v. Stoughton Hosp. Ass’n, Inc., 126 Wis. 2d 267, 274, 376 N.W.2d 89, 93 (Ct. App. 1985) (“Brockmeyer does not relieve an employer of contractual obligations it has undertaken.”).

 

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Filed under Employee Tip - Considering a Legal Action, Employee Tip - Problems at Job, Resources for WI Workers

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