• June 9, 2014

Home Sweet HomeMany major U.S. cities are like transit nodes through which the flux of humanity courses. Smaller communities tend to be more stable. Sure, people come and go in Duluth, Owatonna, Mankato, Fergus Falls, and similar communities throughout the state, but there is much more migration into and out of the Twin Cities and there is much much more migration into and out of the likes of Washington, D.C., New York City, and the like.

Moving one’s life is quite common for many of us, particularly when younger (but also for the rich, older, and climate-challenged). However, it is not particularly fun for most of us. This is not new and this is not news.

But I have noted a few recent cases in which Minnesota employers have gotten into trouble when they uproot employees and then drop them, try to move them again, or otherwise fail to hold up the employer’s side of the bargain.

The long-standing saga of Chandramouli Vaidyanathan obviously comes to mind. In that case, it was alleged that Seagate moved Mr. Vaidyanathan from Texas to Minnesota and then decided that perhaps it did not want a “yield engineer” after all.

More recently, St. Jude thought it could get back its $47,000+ relocation fees paid for the move of Neal J. Hanson when he bailed and went to work for a competitor Biotronik soon after having signed a contract to sit tight at St. Jude for two years.

The problem with St. Jude’s maneuver, however, was that St. Jude coaxed Mr. Hanson with the carrot of a move from Wichita to Kansas City and then, when he accepted that offer, St. Jude decided that it preferred having him in Wichita.

Sr. U.S. District Court Judge Richard H. Kyle, Sr. (D. Minn.) recently held that, “Under Minnesota law, ‘it is elementary that a breach of contract by one party excuses performance by the other.'” A jury could reasonably find that St. Jude violated a material provision of the agreement with Hanson, the Court found, in which case he would be excused from performing his obligations under the contract, including repayment of his relation expenses.



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