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DECISIONS OF THE COURT OF APPEALS
FILED MONDAY, MAY 13, 2013
A12-0709 Darrel Schmitz, Respondent, vs. United States Steel Corporation, Appellant.
St. Louis County District Court, Hon. Shaun R. Floerke.
1. Minn. Stat. § 176.82, subd. 1 (2012), of the Minnesota Workers' Compensation Act provides a cause of action for threatening to discharge an employee for seeking workers' compensation benefits that is independent of claims for retaliatory discharge and intentional obstruction of benefits.
2. A claim for threatening to discharge an employee for seeking workers' compensation benefits in violation of Minn. Stat. § 176.82, subd. 1, requires the plaintiff to show that a person, with knowledge that the plaintiff may have suffered a workplace injury, attempted to dissuade the plaintiff from seeking workers' compensation benefits through one or more communications that created a reasonable apprehension of discharge and caused the plaintiff to delay or cease seeking benefits.
3. Under basic agency principles, an employer is vicariously liable for the actions of a supervisor who threatens to discharge an employee for seeking workers' compensation benefits in violation of Minn. Stat. § 176.82, subd. 1.
4. A claim alleging retaliatory discharge in violation of Minn. Stat. § 176.82, subd. 1, seeking only money damages, sounds in tort and is therefore an action at law with an attendant right to a jury trial under the Minnesota Constitution.
5. A party is not entitled to a jury trial on a refusal-to-offer-continued-employment claim under Minn. Stat. § 176.82, subd. 2 (2012).
Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. Judge Natalie E. Hudson.
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