E Wen Employer Asks For Arbitration In Wrongful Termination Case
An East Wenatchee assisted living center is asking the Douglas County Superior Court to move the case between itself and a fired employee into arbitration.
Bonaventure Senior Living is also asking the court to throw out Paeton Bangart's wrongful termination lawsuit and award the company attorney's fee because it shouldn't have to force Bangart into an arbitration agreement he already signed.
Bangart filed a lawsuit earlier this month against Bonaventure, claiming his firing was retaliation for his reporting of severe understaffing at the facility to the state.
The suit says Bangart was fired in May of 2022 by Bonaventure's Director of Operations the same day the director, Brenda K. Chambers, confronted him over his reporting of understaffing concerns to the state Department of Health and Human Services.
Bangart claims Bonaventure violated Washington's public policy by firing him for his actions.
Bangart is asking for past and future lost wages, as well as other general damages and attorney's fees in his lawsuit.
Bonaventure's latest filing says Bangart agreed to arbitrate any dispute with the company when he was hired and had agreed to the process before suddenly filing his lawsuit.
Bangart's attorney is using a 1997 Washington Court of Appeals case known as Wilson vs the City of Monroe in which the court sided with the plaintiff and allowed a wrongful termination lawsuit to proceed against an employer.
It said, "the right to be free from wrongful termination in contravention of public policy is independent of any underlying contractual agreement between employee and employer."
Bonaventure says the case cited by Bangart is different because it only covered contractual disputes. The company claims that case doesn't apply to the current dispute because the Arbitration Agreement signed by Bangant upon being hired, "contains no such limitation but, rather, broadly cover any employment claims Bangart may bring against Bonaventure.
The company's response in the lawsuit was filed Friday.
Bangart was fired from his position as director of the assisted living and memory care center three months after being hired in February of 2022.
The company operates 26 assisted living centers in Oregon, Washington and Colorado.