Today was a good day for Wisconsin employees. My brain is still in overdrive from the rapid-fire questions during my oral argument to the Wisconsin Supreme Court in Madison. This case involves our client, “Deanne,” who sought to enforce her former employer’s (“the Bank’s”) duty to pay bonus money that she had earned during the year preceding her termination, pursuant to an incentive pay plan (the “Plan”). The Bank refused to pay Deanne because it terminated her employment at the start of scheduled Plan payments. Deanne’s former boss claimed that Deanne was terminated because she lied that she had no knowledge of a co-worker’s plan to leave the Bank with its customers. In reality, Deanne was fired in order to stop her receipt of earned bonus pay. The Bank’s executives admitted during depositions however that no one had ever reached the conclusion that Deanne was involved with taking clients or customers from the Bank. In fact, the sole piece of information upon which the Bank based its termination decision was a misstated phone conversation overheard by a third-party. Deanne testified that she was not even asked by the Bank about the co-worker’s plans to leave or to take clients. Upon terminating Deanne, her boss unilaterally contacted payroll and reversed the direct deposit of her earned bonus pay. He stopped Deanne’s pay schedule without review by the Oversight Committee as dictated in the Plan document.
The Court of Appeals had concluded that Deanne’s testimony that her boss never even asked her about the co-worker’s plans to leave or to take clients, created a disputed issue of material fact that Mr. Isaacson terminated her for the sole purpose of interfering with her pay schedule and in violation of the Bank’s duty of good faith and fair dealing. The Court of Appeals reversed the Circuit Court’s dismissal on summary judgment. We hope and expect that the Wisconsin Supreme Court will affirm the Court of Appeals in our favor and send the case back to the circuit court for the jury trial that Deanne deserves.
Oral Argument to Supreme Court (Atty. Olson begins at 34 minutes into video)
Alan Olson writes this web-log to provide helpful information regarding long-term disability and other employment law cases. He practices employment and long-term disability law throughout the United States from his offices in New Berlin, Wisconsin. Attorney Olson may be contacted at [email protected] with questions about the information posted here or for advice on specific legal claims.