Court: Jimmy John's was right to fire workers over 'poster attack'

Monday's decision overturned previous rulings

The owners of 10 Jimmy John's stores in the Twin Cities won a legal victory Monday in a long-running legal fight.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the owners of the sandwich shops were within their rights when they fired six employees who were part of a union organizing campaign.

Those workers had put up posters around the Twin Cities in 2011 trying to shame Jimmy John's for not giving workers paid sick time. The posters suggested that Jimmy John's food might be unsafe because it may have been made by sick workers.

The court's ruling says what the workers did by launching their "poster attack" during flu season was so disloyal to their employer that it's not covered by labor law.

The appeals judges said allegations that a food industry employer is selling unhealthy food "are likely to have a devastating impact on its business," noting that another court had called it "the equivalent of a nuclear bomb" in a labor relations dispute.

While Jimmy John's does have a policy requiring workers to find their own replacements before they can call in sick, the court noted that the owners of the Twin Cities shops – MikLin Enterprises – had modified that rule. Workers who didn't find a replacement would not be fired right away, but could be dismissed if it happened again.

They also noted that the posters included the personal phone number of MikLin Enterprises' vice president, who testified that he was "bombarded by calls" from people who thought it was unsafe to eat at Jimmy John's.

Earlier rulings backed the workers

The workers argued that they were illegally fired in retaliation for union-organizing activity. Three previous rulings had backed their argument, most recently last year's decision by a panel of the 8th Circuit. Monday's ruling by the full court of appeals overturned the decision and marked the first time a court had backed the Jimmy John's franchisees.

In a coincidence of timing, new rules requiring businesses in Minneapolis and St. Paul to give workers paid sick time just kicked in on Saturday.

Next Up

closed sign

What's open and closed in Minnesota on Thanksgiving Day 2020?

Most services will not be running on Thursday and unlike most years, many stores will be closed, too.


How a turkey's brush with celebrity in Bloomington came to a tragic end

DNR: if you care about wild animals, stop feeding them

TCF Bank Stadium

Saturday's Gophers/Badgers football game canceled due to COVID-19 issues

The Battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe will not take place for the first time since 1906.

coronavirus, Iowa

MN health officials don't think downside of COVID-19 peak has arrived

We could be in a trough between a series of waves, Jan Malcolm said.

covid-19, coronavirus

Wisconsin reports record 104 deaths from COVID-19 Tuesday

That's roughly 10% of the total in the nation in a 24-hour period.


Husband and wife sentenced for fraud scheme through their drywall firm

The Annandale pair bilked an insurance company out of more than $300,000.


4 pedestrians suffer life-threatening injuries after being struck by vehicle

Two vehicles crashed into a car that was on the side of the road after striking a deer.

Marcus Carr

Gophers season preview: New lineup, deeper bench, more questions

Mathew Goldstein takes a deep dive into the murky waters of the college hoops season.


Photos: ViV!R, Minneapolis' new Mexican cafe and shop, is now open

The team behind the acclaimed Popol Vuh have opened the cafe in the same space.


At Wiscoy Township's sole precinct, election judges ditched masks

Voter and Wiscoy resident Kaitlyn O'Connor took a photo of the judges after asking them to wear masks, she said


2 Minnesota colleges have to pay back the students they defrauded

It's the latest in a string of setbacks for Globe University and Minnesota School of Business

Both MN senators are on the panel questioning the Supreme Court nominee

Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken are on the committee that gets to ask questions of Neil Gorsuch for the next couple days.

Cowboy Jacks

Fired Cowboy Jack's worker who robbed manager sentenced to 17 years

Prosecutors say he was arrested in Louisiana after fleeing MN.

Minnesota DOC had right to fire Stillwater Prison warden, court rules

Steven Hammer was dismissed in 2016, amid complaints dating back to 2014.

u.s. district court minnesota - federal court minneapolis

Federal courts in Minnesota are suspending jury trials until next year

This decision applies to jury trials that have yet to commence.