Saturday, May 17, 2014

Cloutier v. The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. case brief notes

Cloutier v. The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co.: P managed one of the D’s stores. Security protection was first provided for employees making deposit. However, it was later terminated to save money. Company policy required store employees to make bank deposits twice each day. However, the store was located in an unsafe area and P was concerned for the security of the employees working under him. P was told that if the employees were afraid to go to the bank unescorted at night or during the weekends, deposits could be skipped and the money placed in the store safe. One day, after the deposit had not been made and the money had been placed in the store vault, the store was burglarized. The D fired P for failing to require his employees to make the required daily deposit.
·         Issue: If an employee claims to have been wrongfully discharged for acting in a manner justified by public policy, does the public policy need to be based on statutory authority? NO
·         Reason: D argues that the trial court erred in denying its motion for a directed verdict because P did not aver a specific, statutory public policy protecting his conduct and giving rise to a wrongful discharge action. But the court found that P has articulated a public policy sufficient to give rise to a cause of action under Howard.   Court applied a two-part test. First, P must show that D was motivated by bad faith, malice, or retaliation in terminating P’s employment. Second, P must demonstrate that he was discharged because he performed an act that public policy would encourage or refused to do something that public policy would condemn. Court found that P met the 2-part test since P was fired because of actions condoned by D; after 36 years of employment P was discharged in a cursory manner; and P was discharged for conduct that public policy would encourage.

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