Aase’s firing case being heard in courts

Published 4:38 pm Saturday, May 25, 2013

An Austin couple’s lawsuit against Waipiti Meadows Community Technology & Services, Inc. will be heard once more in court after the Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed a Mower County District Court decision Monday.

The Court of Appeals ruled Monday Waipiti Meadows violated the state’s human rights act when April Aase was fired in 2011 after her husband, Mark, joined an advisory board for Workforce Development, Inc., a competing job counseling service. A Mower County District Court judge previously ruled in favor of Waipiti Meadows after the Aases filed suit for wrongful termination.

According to the court file, April had worked for Waipiti Meadows since 2009, but her employers grew concerned after Mark was appointed to the advisory board. Waipiti Meadows administrators told April that her husband’s position would likely violate the company’s conflict-of-interest policy. Administrators tried for three weeks to find out what Mark’s duties were, but April didn’t provide information about it. April was eventually told she would be fired if Mark didn’t resign from the board.

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Mower County District Court originally concluded Waipiti Meadows had a legitimate reason for firing April because of their conflict of interest policy. The Court of Appeals disagreed, saying in its decision that Waipiti Meadows had a legitimate reason for firing April once she refused to give more information about her husband’s position, but violated human rights laws when administrators fired her for her husband’s actions, not hers.

The Court of Appeals also ruled there was also grounds to see CTS’s decision to fire April for refusing to discuss her husband’s appointment as pretext for firing her. The case has been remanded back to district court.