The Appellate Group

Christensen v. Labor Commission

Christensen v. Labor Commission, 2023 UT App 100 (Christensen Forster, J.)

Administrative Law

A Salt Lake County employee raised a retaliation claim against the County on the theory that she had been forced into early retirement by the retaliatory actions of a supervisor. The Labor Commission Appeals Board found that the employee had been retaliated against and ordered that the employee be reinstated and that the County reimburse the employee for the amount she took out of her retirement account in order to retire early. The Board held that it could not award attorney fees. The Utah Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding:

  • The Board erroneously ordered the County to reinstate Employee.
  • The Board appropriately ordered the County to reimburse Employee for the amount she took out of her retirement to retire early and for the sick and vacation days she used before retiring.
  • The Board incorrectly believed it could never award attorney fees.
  • Dissent: In Justice Pohlman’s view, the Board did not articulate how the County’s actions were “material.” Thus, she would have remanded the case to the Board for additional findings.
  • Practice tip: The Court remanded for the Board to enter an appropriate judgment for legal fees, but it declined to award fees for the appeal. Attorneys should ensure that they make distinct arguments for each stage of litigation.

Read the full court opinion