Generally, an employer can terminate an employee for any reason or no reason. However, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, an employer cannot retaliate against an employee who refuses to perform an illegal act or who blows the whistle on an illegal activity. Mr. Morse has participated in and personally handled actions against employers in favor of employees who claimed to have been wrongfully terminated in violation of public policy. Some of those cases are summarized below.
- An airline pilot, flying a Boeing 757 for a non scheduled airline, was suspended after reporting serious safety violations by maintenance personnel. Approximately one month later he was fired after reporting a series of uncorrected maintenance discrepancies. Following trial, Plaintiff obtained a jury verdict of $1.1 million for economic losses, $4.5 million for non economic losses, and $7 million punitive damages. After defendant moved for a new trial, the Court reduced the damages to $1.1 million economic damages, 1.0 million non economic damage and $1.0 million in punitive damages. Plaintiff accepted this reduction in exchange for denial of the new trial motion and the defendant appealed. The case was then settled for a confidential amount.
- An escrow officer for a title insurance company was presented with the paperwork to close a loan for a homeowner. All of the documents were signed by the borrower. However, the dates were missing on the three day right of cancellation form. When the escrow officer called this to the attention of the loan officer she was instructed to fill in the dates and close the loan anyway. After she responded that this would be illegal and refused to do so she was laid off. The lawsuit was settled for a confidential amount.
- A home appliance repair technician sustained what appeared to be a minor back twinge on the job. Over the weekend it progressed to unbearable pain and he took a prescription pain killer containing codeine which had been prescribed for him years earlier. The following Monday he reported the injury and was told he had to take a drug test which he did. The test showed positive for codeine and through a series of mishaps he was never given a chance to explain that he had taken a prescription medication and was fired. Suit was filed against the employer, the company which took the drug sample and the company which found the positive result and failed to follow up per the required procedure. The case was settled for a confidential amount.