Menard wins Wisconsin Supreme Court appeal

Eau Claire, Wis. The Wisconsin State Supreme Court has sided with home-improvement retailer John Menard, who sought to overturn an arbitration decision in a wrongful termination case against his former general counsel.

In a 4-3 decision released on July 21, the justices said that Menard will not have to hire back Dawn Sands, the company’s former VP and general counsel, because, “In this case, we conclude that by accepting reinstatement, Sands would be forced to violate her ethical obligations as an attorney.”

The court also nixed the idea of awarding Sands two years of “front pay” as a substitute for reinstatement. It sent the case back to circuit court to determine the appropriate amount of lost earnings for Sands.

According to court records, Sands was terminated from Menard’s in 2006 after asserting her rights to pay that was equal to what similarly situated male executives received. Her annual salary was $175,000.

Menards is the industry’s largest chain of privately owned home-improvement retail warehouses, with an estimated $8.3 billion in 2009 sales, according to the Home Channel News Top 500 Scoreboard.

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