United States District Court, D. Montana, Billings Division
P. WATTERS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court are United States Magistrate Judge Timothy
Cavan's findings and recommendation filed June 25, 2018.
(Doc. 26). Judge Cavan recommends this Court grant Defendant
Tessenderlo Kerley's motion for summary judgment on
Plaintiff Alysha Rosekelly's wrongful discharge claim.
(Doc. 26 at 32).
Standard of review
filed timely objections to the findings and recommendation.
(Doc. 27). Rosekelly is entitled to de novo review of those
portions of Judge Cavan's findings and recommendation to
which she properly objects. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1);
court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A party seeking summary judgment always
bears the initial responsibility of informing the court of
the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of
the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,
which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue
of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 323 (1986).
facts are those which may affect the outcome of the case.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986). A dispute as to a material fact is genuine if there
is sufficient evidence for a reasonable fact-finder to return
a verdict for the nonmoving party. Anderson, 477
U.S. at 248. If the moving party meets its initial
responsibility, the burden then shifts to the opposing party
to establish that a genuine issue of fact exists.
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986).
argues disputed facts preclude summary judgment on the issues
of good cause, pretext, and retaliation.
Wrongful Discharge from Employment Act (WDEA) makes it
illegal for employers to wrongfully discharge employees. A
discharge is wrongful if, among other things, (1) it is done
in retaliation for the employee's refusal to violate
public policy or for reporting public policy violations or
(2) it is not for good cause. Mont Code Ann. §
cause means "reasonable job-related grounds for
dismissal based on a failure to satisfactorily perform job
duties, disruption of the employer's operation, or other
legitimate business reason." Mont. Code. Ann. §
39-2-903(5). A legitimate business reason is a reason that
has some logical relationship to the needs of the business
and is not false, whimsical, arbitrary, or capricious.
Reinlasoder v. City of Colstrip, 376 P.3d 110, 113
(Mont. 2016) (citing Davis v. State, 357 P.3d 320,
322 (Mont. 2015)). To prove a discharge was wrongful, the
employee may show either that the given reason is not good
cause, or that the given reason is a pretext and not the
honest reason for the discharge. Becker v. Rosebud
Operating Services, Inc., 191 P.3d 435, 441 (Mont. 2008)
Montana Supreme Court has stressed the importance of the
"right of an employer to exercise discretion over who it
will employ and keep in employment."
Reinlasoder, 376 P.3d at 113. However, the balance
between the employer's discretion and "the
employee's equally legitimate right to secure
employment... should favor an employee who presents evidence,
and not mere speculation or denial, upon which a jury could
determine that the reasons given for his termination were
false, arbitrary or capricious, and unrelated to the needs of
the business." Reinlasoder, 376 P.3d at 113.
stated it discharged Rosekelly because she made mistakes in
inventory and had periodic attendance issues. (Doc. 26 at
15-16). Rosekelly argued the good cause standard was not met
because disputed facts existed regarding whether she was
satisfactorily performing her inventory duty. (Doc. 26 at
21). Judge Cavan concluded Tessenderlo had good cause to
discharge Rosekelly as a matter of law ...