Dennis Countryman says Dellwood Country Club in White Bear Lake, Minn. and Tim Lawin, the club’s owner, forced him out without cause. He also claims the lifetime membership he purchased before becoming General Manager was terminated.
Dennis Countryman, the former General Manager of Dellwood Country Club in White Bear Lake, Minn., is suing the club and its owner, claiming he was wrongfully terminated, the Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal reported. He claims he was fired in March in part because of a side business he started, according to the complaint filed in Washington County District Court.
Countryman was a member of Dellwood prior to becoming General Manager, from 1989 to 2012, according to records in the case. In 2012, Tim Lawin, who was also a member, purchased the club, the Business Journal reported. The two had discussions about Countryman becoming the General Manager around that time. Countryman agreed and took the $250,000-a-year job with other benefits in late 2012; Countryman said he took the job even though he was making more money in another profession.
At one point, Countryman’s salary was increased to $287,000 before his tenure started to get rocky, the Business Journal reported from the claim. Around the summer of 2019, Lawin started asking Countryman about when he planned to retire based on his age, the complaint says.
In January 2021, the lawsuit continues, Lawin told Countryman that his base salary in 2022 would be reduced to $100,000 — a 65% decrease, the Business Journal reported. As a result, Countryman says he started looking at side businesses to supplement his income.
In February 2021, Countryman says he told Lawin he signed letters of intent to purchase two dog grooming salons and that it wouldn’t impact his day-to-day duties at the club, the Business Journal reported.
In early March of 2021, Lawin announced to club management that Countryman had resigned and that a new General Manager had been hired, according to the complaint, the Business Journal reported. Countryman claims in the lawsuit he did not resign, but rather was terminated.
“On June 28, 2021, and in breach of Lawin’s previous promises and representations, Lawin informs Countryman that the termination from his employment will be fully effective on June 30, 2021,” according to the complaint.
Countryman is over 40 and was replaced by a much younger person, the Business Journal reported from the lawsuit.
When Countryman was previously a member of Dellwood, he purchased a lifetime membership. Around the time he was officially terminated, Countryman says he was handed a check for about $44,000 to cash out his membership, the Business Journal reported. Countryman said in the complaint that he refused to cash the check and that the lifetime-membership deal was just that—a lifetime agreement.
“The complaint speaks for itself, and we expect to prove the facts and claims alleged,” said Greg J. Holly, Countryman’s attorney.
A representative for Dellwood told the Business Journal the club declined to comment.