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Tempted to countersue? Make sure claims are related

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

If you decide to countersue an em­­ployee who takes you to court over work-related issues, make sure your suit is really tied to the employee’s claim. If it isn’t, you’ll have to file a separate lawsuit.

Recent case: Luana managed a Jennie-O Turkey farm and lived in the farmhouse. She was fired and she sued, alleging the termination was retaliation for complaining internally about improper use of farm chemicals.

Luana’s employment agreement said she had to vacate the farm with­­in 30 days of discharge. She stayed for several more months. When she filed her lawsuit, Jennie-O countersued for alleged unpaid utility bills and damage to the farmhouse.

The court said because those claims weren’t directly related to Luana’s discharge claims, the company couldn’t counter-claim. It must file a landlord-tenant lawsuit. (Pecore v. Jennie-O Turkey Stores, No. 13-1676, DC MN, 2014)

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