Kortum Law Office, P.L.L.C. provides representation for all types of employment situations including harassment, discrimination, whistleblower cases and disputes relating to wrongful discharge. Our staff understands that employment issues not only take an emotional toll on employees but also often cause financial difficulties.
Because our office has experience with Montana Human Rights Bureau claims, wrongful discharge claims, constructive discharge claims and retaliation, we are able to offer unique services including review and negotiation of severance packages, employment contracts, and non-compete agreements.
Kortum Law Office, P.L.L.C. is committed to providing you with the most practical advice and competent representation while recognizing and working to lessen the negative impact your legal matter has on you and your family. We understand that most people are unfamiliar with the legal system. Our professional staff takes the time to answer your questions and explain your options to you in common language you can understand.
The Montana Wrongful Discharge Act preempts common law remedies. In Montana, an employee can be discharged for any reason, as long as it is not an unlawful reason, during the probationary period. The default probationary period in Montana, is 6 months. However, an employer can extend or shorten that period. Once an employee has worked beyond the probationary period, an employer can discharge that employee for good cause. Good cause is generally defined, in Montana, as reasonable job related grounds for dismissal based upon (1) a failure to satisfactorily perform job duties, (2) disruption of the employer’s operation, or (3) other legitimate business reasons.
A discharge is wrongful if an employee who is no longer a probationary employee is terminated without good cause. A discharge is also wrongful if it is in retaliation for the employee’s refusal to violate public policy or for reporting a violation of public policy. Finally, a discharge can also be wrongful if the employer fails to follow its own personnel policies when it discharges the employee.
Several exclusions exist that remove claims from Montana’s Wrongful Discharge Act. If your employment is by contract for a certain term, or if your employment is covered by a collective bargaining agreement then it is excluded from the Act. Lastly, if other state or federal statutes apply such as discrimination, the action is excluded from the MWDA. In the discrimination setting, the Montana Human Rights Act applies.
While exceptions exist, generally, punitive damages are unavailable in Montana for wrongful termination or constructive discharge. Damages for wrongful discharge, in Montana, are limited to four years of wages and fringe benefits. A discharged employee, however, has a duty to mitigate or lessen the damages by seeking other employment which the employer who discharged can deduct from the damages.
Montana recognizes that the work environment can be such that a reasonable person in the same or similar circumstances could not tolerate it. Constructive discharge is a voluntary termination of employment by the employee because of a situation created by an act or omission of the employer that the reasonable person would find so intolerable that voluntary termination is the only reasonable alternative.
Discrimination during employment in Montana is covered by the Montana Human Rights Act. It prohibits discrimination based on race, sex, marital status, religion, creed, color, national origin, age or disability. In Montana, the victim of discrimination has 180 days from the date of discrimination to file their complaint with the Montana Human Rights Bureau. Montana requires that complaints initially be filed with the Montana Human Rights Bureau before an employee is allowed to file a claim in district court. If the employer has 15 or more employees, the complaint is also filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
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