CIVIL RIGHTS CLAIM: PUCKE V. J.A. STEVENS MOWER CO. (COA 9/28/2007)

PUCKE V. J.A. STEVENS MOWER CO.
EMPLOYMENT LAW:  Discrimination Claims, IIED, and wrongful discharge

2006-CA-002106
PUBLISHED: AFFIRMING IN PART, REVERSING IN PART, AND REMANDING
PANEL: NICKELL PRESIDING; LAMBERT, STUMBO CONCUR}
COUNTY: BOONE
DATE RENDERED: 09/28/2007

COA held that Pucke’s common law claims of wrongful discharge and intentional infliction of emotional distress were not subsumed by KRS Chapter 344 with the COA noting its earlier decision in Wilson v. Lowe’s Home Center, 75 S.W.3d 229, 239 (Ky.App. 2001), wherein it was previously held that in the absence of the availability of a remedy under KRS Chapter 344 for a claim of IIED, a claim of outrageous conduct is not precluded.  Thus, the trial court’s dismissal was improper.

Under the facts of this case and the plain language of Kentucky law, foreclosure of Pucke’s statutory civil rights claims does not in any way foreclose the availability of remedies arising under her remaining common law claims.  To hold otherwise would lead to the absurd result that an employer could completely escape liability for discriminatory work-related conduct by simply maintaining a work force of less than eight employees, thereby falling outside the statutory definition of an “employer” under KRS 344.030(2).  This result would deny all similarly aggrieved parties any legal recourse.

Digested by Michael Stevens

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