Wrongful Termination Lawsuits Against Starkey Move To U.S. Court
Two of the three wrongful termination lawsuits against Starkey Laboratories have been moved to federal court following the order of Hennepin County District Court Judge Kevin Burke.
U.S. attorney Andrew Luger originally filed a motion to halt discovery on May 19. Lugar feared if the motion wasn’t granted it could compromise the federal criminal investigation it was conducting against Eden Prairie-based Starkey. That motion, which would freeze the process where litigants disclose documents to each other, was going to be granted by Burke, according to the Star Tribune.
However, assistant U.S. attorney Erin Secord shifted away from the motion Monday evening, arguing that two of the cases be pushed to the federal level. Judge Burke was notably irritated and scolded Luger’s office for wasting his court’s time.
“The government decided to play a tactic that I find objectionable,” Burke said, according to the newspaper. “So you are done. I am not letting you intervene in this case.”
U.S. District Court judges David S. Doty and John R. Tunheim have been assigned to the cases involving former Starkey chief operations officer Keith Guggenberger and executive assistant Julie Miller.
The third case against former Starkey president Jerry Ruzicka has been reassigned to a legal mediator.
Ruzicka’s lawsuit in particular alleges he and other upper management members were unlawfully ousted after Ruzicka snubbed CEO Bill Austin’s request for his stepson to receive a promotion. In retaliation, Austin purportedly created “a hostile and vindictive work environment” by badmouthing Ruzicka and other C-suite members around the office.
News of the Starkey executives being let go dropped last September. Each of the former employees are seeking compensation for their severance, which totals in the millions of dollars, on top of other damages.