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January 26, 2011

Employee’s being on medical leave and continuing to receive employee benefits defeats the employee’s claim of constructive termination

Employee’s being on medical leave and continuing to receive employee benefits defeats the employee’s claim of constructive termination
Keehle v Diocese of Syracuse, 2011 NY Slip Op 00145, Appellate Division, Third Department

Minnie Keehle was employed by the Diocese of Syracuse and assigned to teach at a school in St. Joseph's Parish in the Village of Endicott, Broome County.

Claiming that the school principal made her working conditions so intolerable that she could no longer teach and was forced to give up her position, Keehle sued the Diocese for “breach of contract," contending that the school principal made it impossible for her to "continue her employment,” and she had been "effectively terminated."

The Diocese, in rebuttal, argued that Keehle was still its employee and that she had neither resigned nor been terminated.

Supreme Court granted the Diocese’s motion dismissing Keehle’s petition and the Appellate Division affirmed the lower court’s decision.

The Appellate Division said that accepting all of Keehle’s allegations as true and gibing her the benefit of “every possible favorable inference” Keehle failed to demonstrate that she was constructively discharged from her position because of the conditions that existed in the work place.

The court said that the evidence introduced by the Diocese demonstrated that Keehle had not resigned from her position and it had not terminated her. Rather, said the Appellate Division, Keehle continued to receive employee benefits, including disability and sick pay, as well as health insurance and the record “conclusively established” that she was still in the employ of the Diocese of Syracuse. “albeit on medical leave.”

Accordingly, the Appellate Division said that Keehle’s complaint was properly dismissed by Supreme Court.

The decision is posted on the Internet at:

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