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Hernandez-Nolt v. Washington County

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 11-27-2013
Case #: A151555
Hadlock, J. for the Court; Ortega, P.J.; and Edmonds, S.J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A151555.pdf

Civil Procedure: In a wrongful discharge claim, an employee’s claim cannot be considered untimely where a genuine dispute regarding the date an employee leaves employment exists, because a wrongful discharge claim does not accrue until the employee leaves the employment.

Employee appealed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment for the Employer in this wrongful discharge case. The trial court determined that the employee’s claim was untimely, because the two-year statue of limitations had run, pursuant to ORS 30.275(9). The trial court reasoned that the employee’s claim accrued on April 11, 2013, the date she left one department and began to work in another department, which would end any wrongful discharge claim against the original department. The trial court record contained evidence that a factfinder may conclude that the employee did not leave the employment on April 11, 2013, because at that time the employee merely transferred to a different department under the same county employment. Consequently, a finding that the employee did not leave employment in April 11, 2003 would mean that the employee’s claim is not barred by the statute of limitations and the employer was not entitled to summary judgment. The employer moved for summary judgment based on the statute of limitations, not based on the rationale that the employee did not establish an element of her claim. Therefore, because a wrongful discharge claim does not accrue until the employee leaves the employment, which remains a genuine dispute, the trial court’s grant of summary judgment for the employer is reversed and remanded.