Vonch v. Carlson Companies, Inc., C8-88-2578

Decision Date09 May 1989
Docket NumberNo. C8-88-2578,C8-88-2578
Parties112 Lab.Cas. P 56,085, 113 Lab.Cas. P 56,145, 4 Indiv.Empl.Rts.Cas. (BNA) 789 Brad VONCH, Appellant, v. CARLSON COMPANIES, INC., Respondent.
CourtMinnesota Court of Appeals

Syllabus by the Court

The trial court did not err in granting summary judgment where termination of appellant's at-will employment did not violate any clearly mandated public policy.

Daniel D. Reisman, Tolin & Reisman, Minneapolis, for appellant.

R. Scott Davies, Michael Thomas Miller, Briggs and Morgan, Minneapolis, for respondent.

Heard, considered and decided by WOZNIAK, C.J., FOLEY and NIERENGARTEN, JJ.



Appellant/employee appeals from summary judgment on his claim of termination in violation of public policy.


Appellant Vonch was employed in Carlson Companies (Carlson) corporate security department from 1980 until January 1987. In the spring of 1986, Vonch reported to the corporate vice president of personnel that his supervisor was committing theft and fraud through alleged travel and expense improprieties. The vice president assured Vonch that the matter would be properly investigated.

In the fall of 1986, an independent investigation of the supervisor essentially substantiated Vonch's charges. Carlson, determining that a "significant loss" was not experienced by the company, took no action.

In December 1986, Vonch was informed that his department would be eliminated due to the decrease in amount of security services required by the corporation. Vonch was offered the position of security officer of a Radisson Hotel; he rejected the offer and was later offered a liaison position in security for all of the Radisson Hotels in the Twin City area. Vonch also rejected this offer, claiming the compensation offered was significantly lower than he had been receiving. Carlson maintains that the actual monetary salary was higher than his previous position. Upon separation, Vonch received three letters of recommendation from his supervisors.

The trial court found that there were no fact issues and Carlson was entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law because:

The issues raised by Vonch and [another employee] appear to the court to involve only a corporate management dispute and not a clearly mandated public policy.

Second, [Vonch] has demonstrated no nexus between his reported complaints to management and the end of his employment.


Whether the trial court erred in granting summary judgment in respondent's favor?


In reviewing a grant of summary judgment, this court must determine whether there exist any genuine issues of material fact and whether the trial court erred in its application of the law. Betlach v. Wayzata Condominium, 281 N.W.2d 328, 330 (Minn.1979).

Vonch maintains the trial court erred as a matter of law by refusing to apply Minn.Stat. Sec. 181.932, subd. 1(a) (Supp.1987) which provides in part:


Subdivision 1. Prohibited action. An employer shall not discharge, discipline, threaten, otherwise discriminate against, or penalize an employee regarding the employee's compensation, terms, conditions, location, or privileges of employment because:

(a) the employee, or a person acting on behalf of an employee, in good faith, reports a violation or suspected violation of any federal or state law or rule adopted pursuant to law to an employer or to any governmental body or law enforcement official.

Minn.Stat. Sec. 181.932, subd. 1(a). This statute has been referred to rather loosely as the "whistle blowing" law. Vonch alleges that the proposed transfer and potential pay cut constituted a penalty prohibited by the statute and was imposed upon him for reporting his supervisor's activity which allegedly violated state theft statutes. Carlson contends the situation involved an internal management dispute.

Employment of an indefinite term is presumed to be at-will and either party can terminate it for "any reason or no reason at all", Ziegler v. Leo A. Hoffmann...

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14 cases
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Minnesota
    • 1 Febrero 1994
    ...the public interest is only "marginally affected," a cognizable retaliatory discharge claim will not lie. Vonch v. Carlson Companies, Inc., 439 N.W.2d 406, 408 (Minn.App.1989), pet. for rev. denied (Minn. July 12, b. Legal Analysis. In our judgment, the Plaintiff's whistleblower claims fail......
  • McClure v. American Family Mut. Ins. Co.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Minnesota
    • 10 Diciembre 1998
    ...for Indep. Living, 50 F.3d 514, 517 (8th Cir.1995) (holding that challenge to management policies not actionable); Vonch v. Carlson Companies, Inc., 439 N.W.2d 406, 408 (finding that internal company disputes are not within the domain of the public interest). While plaintiffs profess their ......
  • Bolander v. Bolander, No. A04-2003
    • United States
    • Minnesota Court of Appeals
    • 9 Agosto 2005
    ...(Minn.App.1987). Under Minnesota law, an at-will employee can be discharged for any reason or no reason at all. Vonch v. Carlson Cos., Inc., 439 N.W.2d 406, 408 (Minn.App.1989), review denied (Minn. July 12, 1989). And an at-will employee has no claim for wrongful termination or breach of a......
  • Donahue v. Schwegman, Lundberg, Woessner & Kluth, P.A.
    • United States
    • Minnesota Court of Appeals
    • 15 Diciembre 1998
    ...falsification of fire department's roll calls and drunk driving of trucks to fire calls implicates public policy); Vonch v. Carlson Cos., 439 N.W.2d 406, 408 (Minn.App.1989) (finding report of company theft and fraud not in furtherance of public interest), review denied, (Minn. July 12, 198......
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