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Fired Employee Fails in her Bid to Sue Employer over Termination

Case Study

Fired Employee Fails in her Bid to Sue Employer over Termination

September 13, 2023
Danielle N. Malaty

A lawsuit against a Midwest medical center brought by a hospital employee who claimed she was terminated unlawfully has been dismissed.

The plaintiff, who was fired in March 2020, claimed her termination was not based on “good cause” and that the employer failed to provide evidence of the incident that resulted in her dismissal. She also claimed her termination was a breach of her union’s Collective Bargaining Agreement and contract.

Danielle N. Malaty, a partner in Goldberg Segalla’s Employment and Labor practice group, defended the medical center. In motioning to dismiss the case, Danielle argued the plaintiff failed to state a claim for both breach of contract and unlawful termination. She also maintained the plaintiff was bound by the settlement agreement because her union was vested with the exclusive right to file, pursue and resolve grievances, and that she lacked standing since she was bound by exclusive remedies articulated in the CBA.

Danielle argued too that the plaintiff failed to exhaust her administrative remedies and failed to respond to arguments laid out in the defense motion, thereby resulting in forfeiture.

A Circuit Court of Cook County judge agreed with Danielle’s arguments, determining the plaintiff failed to plead any facts that established a breach of contract under the CBA and failed to plead facts that established her termination was not based on good cause.

The court also determined the plaintiff’s claim of wrongful termination — like her allegations of a contract breach — was loaded with legal and unsupported factual conclusions, and that she failed to place the medical center on any degree of notice as to what cause of action or allegations it confronted.

Furthermore, the court agreed that because the plaintiff was represented in the grievance process and subsequent settlement of her grievance by her union, which had authority to act for her, the state of Illinois and the CBA both bound her to the settlement. Finally, the court found the union was contractually authorized to settle her claim, and therefore, the plaintiff lacked standing as she has failed to exhaust all of the administrative remedies under her CBA.

As such, the judge granted Danielle’s motion to dismiss with prejudice.