Dinn, Hochman & Potter, LLC

Voice of Kermit at center of employment contract disputes

Employees are perhaps the most important component of most Ohio businesses. They are the ones who interact with the public, represent the company and drive the day-to-day business operations. However, at times, the contribution of employees to the overall company welfare is not recognized and employee contract disputes become a possibility.

Steve Whitmire, the voice of Kermit the Frog, is at the center of an employee contract dispute. According to Disney, Whitmire's employment as Kermit's voice was terminated in Oct. 2016 for "unacceptable business conduct."  Statements by Disney indicate that there was a history of Whitmire's hostility toward co-workers, along with the inability to negotiate a contract.

On the other side of this dispute, Whitmire claims that he was told he would be honored in appreciation for his contributions to the Muppets. Additionally, he indicates that he was led to believe that there was a possibility of resolving these concerns with those responsible for making such decisions at Disney. However, it now appears that there will be no resolution and the termination will stand.

In this case, a long-term employee is being terminated amid a variety of employee contract disputes. While the typical Ohio employee does not command the fame and presence that the voice of Kermit the Frog does, this employee does have the right to be treated fairly and according to the terms of the agreed upon employee contract. On the other hand, the employer also has the right to expect the employee to honor the terms of the contract. Experienced legal counsel can assist in working through these concerns and presenting them before a court of law if necessary.

Source: npr.org, "Kermit The Frog Actor Fired Over 'Unacceptable Business Conduct'", Doreen McCallister, July 18, 2017

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