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Kemp v. MasterBrand Cabinets, Inc

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 07-17-2013
Case #: A141576
Ortega, P.J. for the Court; Haselton, C.J.; and Brewer, J. pro tempore
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A141576.pdf

Employment Law: (1) A common law wrongful discharge claim should not be dismissed for adequacy of other statutory remedies if the common law claim preexisted any statutory remedy; (2) attorneys fees are not improper if they are connected to a claim of unlawful discrimination; and (3) if an evidentiary matter was improperly decided, but was not central to the case, it is a harmless error.

MasterBrand Cabinets, Inc. ("MasterBrand") appealed a verdict of unlawful termination, retaliatory discharge, and common law wrongful discharge in a sex-discrimination action brought by Kemp. Masterbrand is a cabinet manufacturing company that hired Kemp in 2004. Masterbrand claims that Kemp left her shift early and without approval of the shift team leader. Kemp claims that she was fired “for being pregnant.” Prior to her firing, several incidents occurred between Kemp and other MasterBrand employees involving inappropriate comments regarding her pregnancy.  MasterBrand argued that (1) Kemp’s common law wrongful discharge claim should have been dismissed because she had adequate statutory protection; (2) the trial court erred in granting attorney’s fees; and (3) the trial court erred in denying a motion in limine regarding evidence of MasterBrand’s subsequent discipline of an employee. First, the Court rejected MasterBrand’s first claim of error because Kemp had a common law claim for wrongful discharge that preexisted any available statutory remedies. Additionally, the Court rejected Masterbrand’s second claim of error because Kemp’s wrongful discharge claim was made in connection with a claim of unlawful discrimination. Finally, the Court rejected MasterBrand’s third claim of error because, even if the motion in limine was improperly decided, it was harmless. Affirmed.