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Duty v. Boys & Girls Club of Porter County

Court of Appeals of Indiana

December 18, 2014

DAWN DUTY, Appellant-Plaintiff,
v.
BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB OF PORTER COUNTY and CHUCK LEER, Appellees-Defendants

Page 769

APPEAL FROM THE PORTER SUPERIOR COURT. The Honorable William E. Alexa, Judge. Cause No. 64D02-1309-PL-8059.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: EDWARD P. GRIMMER, DANIEL A. GOHDES, Edward P. Grimmer, P.C., Crown Point, Indiana.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES: JOHN E. HUGHES, LAUREN K. KROEGER, Hoeppner Wagner & Evans LLP, Merrillville, Indiana.

NAJAM, Judge. MATHIAS, J., and BRADFORD, J., concur.

Page 770

OPINION

NAJAM, Judge

STATEMENT OF THE CASE

Dawn Duty appeals the trial court's dismissal of her complaint against Boys and Girls Club of Porter County (" BGC" ) and Charles R. Leer for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Duty presents a single issue for our review, namely, whether the trial court erred when it dismissed her complaint.

We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for further proceedings.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Duty and Leer were both employed by BGC.[1] At some point, Duty

reported [to someone at BGC regarding the] financial practices of then[-] President Charles R. Leer and the financial officer of [BGC,] which violated good accounting practices, policy[,] and recommendations of the national Boys and Girls Clubs, and transparency as to all income and where it is in [BGC']s accounts, which reported practice was criticized in audit thereafter.

Appellant's App. at 74. Leer's employment with BGC ended in April 2013. And in July 2013, BGC terminated Duty's employment.

On September 10, 2013, Duty filed a complaint against BGC and Leer alleging wrongful discharge (against BGC) and tortious interference with a business relationship (against Leer). In particular, Duty alleged that BGC had violated its own policy to protect employees " from any adverse consequence or retaliation for reporting under the 'Whistleblower' policy" as set out in BGC's employee handbook, which, Duty alleged, created a " quasi-contract." Id. at 10. And Duty alleged that Leer, a former BGC employee, had persuaded the interim Chief Executive Officer of BGC to terminate Duty's employment.

The " Whistleblower Policy" included in BGC's employee handbook, relevant portions of which were attached to Duty's complaint, states in relevant part as follows:

If an employee believes that any employee of [BGC] may be acting in violation of [any federal, state, or local laws and regulations that apply to BGC and its business operations,]--or in violation of a [BGC] policy--the employee has a duty to report the perceived violation to their [sic] supervisor or to the Director of Operations as soon as possible or reasonable under the circumstances. . . .
* * *

Page 771

Whistleblower protections are provided in two important areas--confidentiality and against retaliation. . . . This includes, but is not limited to, protection from retaliation in the form of an adverse employment action such as termination, compensation decreases, or poor work assignments and threats of physical harm. . . .

Id. at 47.

BGC and Leer filed a joint motion to dismiss Duty's complaint, and Duty moved the trial court for leave to file an amended complaint. In her first amended complaint, Duty alleged two additional counts against Leer, namely, tortious interference with a contractual relationship and " disparagement." Id. at 41. On March 5, ...


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