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Michael Sullivan v. Continental Construction

April 23, 2013

MICHAEL SULLIVAN, PLAINTIFF AND APPELLANT,
v.
CONTINENTAL CONSTRUCTION OF MONTANA, LLC, DEFENDANT AND APPELLEE.



APPEAL FROM: District Court of the Eighteenth Judicial District, In and For the County of Gallatin, Cause No. DV 11-119A Honorable Holly Brown, Presiding Judge

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Brian Morris

Submitted on Briefs: February 27, 2013

Decided: April 23, 2013

Filed:

Clerk

Justice Brian Morris delivered the Opinion of the Court.

¶1 Michael Sullivan (Sullivan) filed a wrongful discharge action in the Eighteenth Judicial District, Gallatin County. The District Court granted summary judgment in favor of Continental Construction of Montana, LLC (Continental Construction). Sullivan appeals. We affirm.

¶2 Sullivan presents the following issues on appeal:

¶3 Whether the District Court properly concluded that Continental Construction had good cause to terminate Sullivan's employment?

¶4 Whether Continental Construction improperly considered hearsay evidence in deciding to terminate Sullivan's employment?

¶5 Whether the District Court improperly considered hearsay evidence in concluding that Continental Construction had good cause to terminate Sullivan's employment?

¶6 Whether the District Court properly concluded that Continental Construction did not violate the provisions of its employee handbook when it terminated Sullivan's employment?

PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND

¶7 Continental Construction operates a construction company from its headquarters in Florida. Continental Construction hired Sullivan as a construction site supervisor in April 2008. Sullivan directly supervised many of Continental Construction's employees in Montana. Sullivan also worked directly with many of Continental Construction's subcontractors and clients.

¶8 Sullivan left Montana on a scheduled vacation on October 21, 2010. John Cecil (Cecil), the Vice President of Construction for Continental Construction, travelled to Montana from Florida to replace Sullivan while Sullivan was on vacation. A group of Continental Construction employees approached Cecil that same day. The employees informed Cecil that they were unhappy with Sullivan as a supervisor. Cecil understood that these employees were threatening to quit unless Continental Construction immediately terminated Sullivan's position as their supervisor.

¶9 Cecil called Peg Wilson (Wilson), Continental Construction's office manager in Florida, to inform her of the employees' dissatisfaction with Sullivan. Wilson instructed Cecil to interview each of the employees individually about their experiences with Sullivan. John Wallace (Wallace), the administrator for Continental Construction in Montana, helped Cecil conduct these interviews the following day, on October 22, 2010.

¶10 These interviews revealed that many employees felt that Sullivan routinely made demeaning and derogatory comments about Continental Construction's management to both employees and non-employees. Sullivan also made derogatory and demeaning comments to employees and subcontractors about their work. Several employees reported that Sullivan often showed up late to work and would disappear for extended periods of time during the working shift. Many employees believed that Sullivan negatively affected employee morale.

ΒΆ11 Wallace e-mailed to Wilson copies of his notes from the employee interviews that same day. Wilson shared the notes with James Murphy (Murphy), the sole owner and president of Continental Construction, and Michael Kluck (Kluck), a Continental Construction supervisor in Florida. Wilson, Murphy, and Kluck determined that Sullivan's conduct did not meet the standards for Continental ...


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