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Court backs Lund in employee lawsuit

Brunswick Corporation and its New York Mills Lund Boat division successfully defended itself against workers' claims that they were deprived of vacation.

The case concluded June 11, with the Seventh Judicial District Court ruling in favor of the company.

The issue at the center of the class action suit was vacation pay.

The suit was brought by 19 employees, representing more than 200 former and current workers. They claimed that they were denied earned vacation time as policies were revised. The time frame ;dates to 2004, after Brunswick purchased Lund Boats from Genmar.

The workers alleged that the implementation of the Brunswick vacation policy, as of July 1, 2005, took from them a benefit already accrued--specifically that the vacation they had earned under the Genmar policy from July 1, 2004 to June 30, 2005.

The employees contended that the company failed to credit workers for paid vacation time they say they earned during the previous year. The employees claimed they lost up to four weeks.

The company countered that all employees received the vacation they were entitled to. And in fact, the employees received the same or greater vacation benefits than they would have received under the original policy.

In the 32 findings of fact, the court concluded that the workers knew, or should have known, that the vacation policy implemented by Brunswick was not the same as the previous policy under Genmar. The change in policy was communicated to the employees.

The court determined that the change in policy was modified and the revisions were understood by workers. Further, some witnesses did not recall attending the meetings after Brunswick purchased Lund, in 2004. "Their voluntary failure to attend such meetings does not make notice of the contract modifications invalid or ineffective," stated the court document.

Plaintiffs contended that they were owed "banked" vacation time, but the court disagreed.

Ultimately, the court concluded that employees were not "harmed" by the Brunswick vacation policy.

"Looking at the issue in its simplest terms, using an employee with eight years of experience, the amount of vacation time he or she would receive was identical under both the Genmar and Brunswick policies - a maximum of 120 hours, stated the court in the memorandum to the case.

Another point of law, concluded the court, was that the employees continued to work for Lund following the Brunswick modification of the policy--thereby accepting the terms and the modifications.

The class action representatives were listed as Darwin Roberts, Dave Dubs, Greg Morse, John Westhoff, Kenneth Mathewson, Jeff Small, Arthur Buntrock, Roger Grindstaff, James Baron, Jack Herr, Vincent Bernu, Richard Sydow, Steve Eklund, Leroy Atkinson, Michael Kroupa, Diana Makinen, Suzzy Harper, Gary Harper and Thomas Kimmes.