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Court upholds judgment in favor of Cedar Lake

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A fired employee’s claim that he had a constitutionally protected interest in his job with the Town of Cedar Lake and that he was entitled to due process before being fired failed on appeal.

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment entered by the trial court for the town of Cedar Lake and town council. In his  complaint, Wynkoop asked the court to find the disciplinary procedure instituted against him for violating town code of conduct and the town’s policy and procedure manual violated his due process rights under the personnel policy.

He relied on language in the procedure manual to support his claim, but that manual continually said it is not a contract of employment and contained an at-will employment provision. The manual also outlined progressive disciplinary policies and an employee appeal provision.

After a hearing, the town administrator sent a letter informing Wynkoop he would be suspended and his position demoted; he refused to acknowledge the letter and was eventually fired.

In Doug Wynkoop v. The Town of Cedar Lake, Indiana, and the Town Council of the Town of Cedar Lake, Indiana, 45A05-1111-PL-602, Judges L. Mark Bailey and Paul Mathias ruled that under Indiana law, Wynkoop didn’t have a cognizable property right in his position and was an employee-at-will, regardless of any language in the manual.

Chief Judge Margret Robb concurred in result.

“In an at-will state such as Indiana, an employer is not obligated to furnish to its employees a statement of its employment policies,” she wrote. “Having made statements in writing about the terms and conditions of employment, however, it is fundamentally unfair to allow an employer to essentially declare those statements illusory and raise the ‘employment at will’ doctrine as a shield when it is called to task by an employee who can demonstrate detrimental reliance on the employer’s failure to abide by those terms and conditions.”

But, Wynkoop didn’t demonstrate detrimental reliance on the provisions of the manual, so she agreed that the trial court decision should be affirmed.

 

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  1. A sad end to a prolific gadfly. Indiana has suffered a great loss in the journalistic realm.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  4. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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