Dorsey – Ninth Circuit Asks Montana Supreme Court for Guidance: Is an Employer Defending Itself in a Wrongful Discharge Lawsuit Limited to the Reasons for Termination Given in a Discharge Letter?


Many Montana employees can claim the protection of Montana’s unique Wrongful Discharge from Employment Act, which generally bars an employer for terminating an employee without “good cause” after the employee has completed a probationary period. A separate Montana statute permits a discharged employee to demand a “discharge letter” explaining the reasons why the employee was terminated, and some employers make it their usual practice to give terminated employees a written explanation of why they were fired. If an employer has to explain its reason why there was good cause to discharge an employee in a lawsuit, is the employer limited to the reasons given in a “discharge letter”? The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has asked the Montana Supreme Court to clarify this important point of law.


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