Company liable in firing of reservist

In what may be a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court found that a hospital is liable in firing an employee who claims his supervisors had a problem with his military obligations.

In a case that has more twists and turns than a conversation with Charlie Sheen, the Supreme court has ruled that Proctor Hospital in Peoria, Illinois is liable in a case in which they fired an employee, who was in the U.S. Army Reserve, in 2004.

The plaintiff, Vincent E. Staub, claimed that two of his supervisors were hostile to his military obligations, and one allegedly made a false complaint to the hospital's vice president of human resources, who partially relied on that report to terminate his employment in 2004.

Staub sued the hospital under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 and a jury awarded him $57,640 in damages. But the case was dismissed by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, which stated that the case "could not succeed unless the nondecision-maker exercised such ‘singular influence' over the decision-maker that the decision to terminate was the product of ‘blind reliance.'" In the other words, the HR staffer did not base the firing entirely on the supervisor's report.

However, the Supreme Court ruled 8-0 in favor of overturning the 7th Circuit opinion and remanding that the case return to the 7th Circuit with instructions to decide whether to reinstate the jury verdict or to order a new trial.