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Weigman v. Everest Inst.

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

July 30, 2013

Karen Weigman, Plaintiff,
Everest Institute, Defendant

Page 1103

Michelle Dye Neumann, Phillip M. Kitzer, Halunen & Associates, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for Plaintiff.

Jeffrey K. Brown, Amy R. Patton, Andrew K. Haeffele, Payne & Fears LLP, Irvine, California, Steven Paul Marino, Marino Law Firm, Saint Paul, Minnesota, for Defendant.

Page 1104


RICHARD H. KYLE, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff Karen Weigman filed this action against her former employer, Defendant Everest Institute (" Everest" ), alleging she was terminated in violation of the Minnesota Whistleblower Act and public policy for confronting her supervisor about what she believed to be the forgery of internal documents. Everest now moves for summary judgment on Weigman's claims, and, for the reasons set forth below, its Motion will be granted.


The following facts are recited in the light most favorable to Weigman.

In May 2010, Weigman was hired by Everest, a vocational college, as a Program Chair for its Medical Assisting Program. A few months after she was hired, on Saturday, September 11, Weigman's supervisor, Gina LaBounty, emailed her and other program chairs requesting help in preparing for an important internal audit that was set to begin that Monday. LaBounty specifically requested that Weigman provide proof of her CPR and OSHA training for her employee file " ASAP" because both were required credentials for Weigman's position. The following Monday, September 13, Weigman met with LaBounty to inform her that she had not completed either training and that she was physically unable to complete the CPR test [1] because she was nine months pregnant and experiencing extreme pain (which she later discovered was due to a broken sacrum). After the meeting, she completed the OSHA training online and gave LaBounty the certificate. LaBounty told her she had spoken to the CPR instructor, Ray Craft, about her CPR card. Later that morning, Craft stopped by Weigman's office with a printed CPR card for her to sign, but she didn't.

Weigman spoke with LaBounty again to tell her she was not comfortable signing the card because she had not taken the exam. LaBounty told her that they needed the card in her file for the audit. Weigman asked if she could sign the card and take the physical part of the class after she returned from maternity leave, and LaBounty agreed subject to Craft's approval. Craft also agreed to the accommodation and administered the written exam, which Weigman passed. Later that day, Craft dropped off the CPR card, which Weigman signed and gave to LaBounty.

Page 1105

Several months later, Weigman learned from certain instructors she supervised that LaBounty had told them to sign and backdate instructor-observation forms and create training certificates, even though the instructors could not verify whether the observations or training actually took place. Weigman believed it was illegal to falsify documents in this manner. On January 10, 2011, in their standard weekly meeting, Weigman told LaBounty that several instructors had informed her that LaBounty directed them to falsify documents. Weigman stated she would not participate in that for any future audits and that she would encourage her staff not to either.

Two days later, on January 12, 2011, the organization Everest used for CPR certification, LifeSavers, received an " anonymous phone call" about Weigman having a CPR card that was not legitimate. LifeSavers passed this information on to Everest's campus liaison, Julie Monette. Monette met with LaBounty and LaBounty's supervisor, Brian O'Hara, to discuss the phone call, and they decided to conduct an investigation into the matter. LaBounty spoke with Weigman about the phone call and told her they were investigating it. Weigman reminded her that she had received the CPR card during the audit but had not taken the physical portion of the class or exam because she had been pregnant. The next day, Weigman requested to speak with human resources, but LaBounty told her to wait.

LaBounty then discussed the matter with Craft, who did not recall administering the written exam to Weigman and denied issuing her a CPR card to sign. He told LaBounty he had to obtain cards from Julie Monette and did not keep extras in his office, but that he had a template on his computer, which was password protected. LaBounty searched for the written exam that Weigman took, but neither she nor Craft located a copy of it. LaBounty also discussed CPR certification with instructor Matthew Johnson, who told her that all the instructors kept copies of cards at their desks. Johnson told ...

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