By Bill Wright
Montana is one of the few states where employers must have good cause to fire an employee. In this recent case, the employer fired its site manager because he had an employee return to work without a medical release and sign a supervisor’s signature on his time cards. The employee’s defense? You let other managers do it too, (although there was no evidence of similar misconduct by any other manager). The federal District Court in Montana ruled that loss of confidence in a manager constitutes good cause under Montana law. This manager operated largely independently, with little oversight. The employer therefore had to trust him. With loss of trust, came loss of responsibility.
Will this ruling affect rulings in other contexts where “good cause” matters? We don’t know, but minimally, it points to language to include in a manager’s employment agreement. Schmidt v. Old Dominion Freight Line, No. 16-cv-00159 (D.. Mont. March 21, 2018)