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Meter reader not fired because of comp benefits: Appeals court

meter reader

A Minnesota appellate court has ruled that the city of Bloomington was within its rights to terminate the employment of a municipal utility meter reader, despite the woman’s claims that she was fired in retaliation for collecting workers compensation benefits following an on-the-job injury.

The Court of Appeals of Minnesota on Monday upheld a district court’s decision to grant summary judgment to Bloomington in a case brought by Jenny Rhoades.

Ms. Rhoades worked as the city’s only part-time meter reader beginning in 2015. She was injured after slipping on a patch of ice while taking a water meter reading in 2019 and subsequently collected workers comp.

The city fired Ms. Rhoades in July 2020, saying the termination was due to the impacts of COVID-19 and not related to individual performance.

Ms. Rhoades alleged disability discrimination and retaliatory discharge. She said the city refused to offer continued employment under the workers comp law.

The lower court judge ruled that Ms. Rhoades failed to prove her firing was related to receiving comp benefits.

The appeals court agreed, determining that summary judgment was properly granted to the city because Ms. Rhoades failed to prove the termination was in any way tied to her receipt of workers comp. The judges wrote that no evidence shows the city ever attempted to impede Ms. Rhoades’ ability to collect comp benefits.