Facts of The Case Richard Green went to work in 1968 as a quality control inspector for Ralee Engineering Company, which manufactures fuselage and wing components for military and civilian aircraft. Some of Ralee's clients were Boeing and Northrop. Mr. Green went to work as an at-will employee, and, as such could be let go at any time for any reason not otherwise prohibited by law. In 1990, after being with the company for twenty-two years, Mr. Green noticed Ralee was beginning to ship parts that had failed inspection.
Over the next two years he frequently objected about this practice to supervisory and management personnel. He even went so far as to bring his concerns to the general manager and the company president. His complaints and protests fell on deaf ears. The company continued to ship parts to Boeing that had failed inspection.
In March 1991, Ralee decided to shut down its night shift, and let Mr. Green go after twenty-three years of employment. During the lay-off of the night shift employees, Ralee retained the services of other inspectors from that shift with considerably less seniority than Mr. Green had. Mr.
Green filed a wrongful termination complaint. He maintained he was fired in retaliation for complaining about the company's unsafe practice of shipping faulty parts. Mr. Green photocopied inspection reports to provide proof of the ongoing practice. Boeing confirmed Mr.
Green's charges, and terminated its contract with Ralee. Rules of Law At-will employment is defined as "if an employee is not under contract, he or she is an at-will employee. An employer can dismiss an at-will employee hired for an indefinite term at any time for any non-discriminatory reason" (web). The California Supreme Court ruled in Tameny v, Atlantic Richfield Co. , 27 Cal.
3 d 167 (1980), that an at-will employee cannot be fired if it violates "fundamental public policy." Unfortunately, the court did not clearly define "fundamental public policy." In Gantt v. Sentry Insurance, 1 Cal. 4 th 1083 (1992) the court tried to clarify this policy by ruling that "fundamental public policy" must be located within constitutional or a statutory provisions. Ralee filed a summary judgment motion, maintaining it was entitled to discharge Mr. Green, even if it did so because he complained about the company's practice of shipping faulty parts. Ralee further maintained that this practice did not violate a public policy located within constitutional or statutory provisions.
The trial court agreed that Mr. Green was an at-will employee, whom his employer had every right to fire due to his continued complaining about how they conducted their business. Mr. Green appealed the decision. The California Court of Appeals upheld Mr.
Green's complaint and allowed him to go to trial on his claims. The California Supreme Court ruled that Federal Aviation Act (FAA) regulations provide inspection guidelines to ensure the safety of aircraft components and that those regulations were sufficiently "tethered" to the FAA. The court further reasoned in support of Mr. Green's claim that "promoting airline safety- the subject of the federal regulations - constitutes a policy of sufficient public importance." By a 5 to 2 vote, the California Supreme Court ruled in favor of Mr. Green's claim.
Managerial Prospective When Mr. Green first brought it to Ralee's attention that some aircraft components the company was producing were failing inspection, Ralee should have investigated the matter and then taken corrective action if needed. Taking this action would have been the right thing to do for its customers and to ensure the aircraft components met FAA regulations, which affect public safety. Mr. Green had more than twenty years of seniority with the company as a quality control inspector so it stands to reason, he knew what he was doing and his concerns should not have been ignored. By firing Mr.
Green for reasons that appeared disingenuous, Ralee took the matter from an internal problem to a public one that had to be resolved by the highest court in the State of California. It cost the company money, time and its reputation. References Green v. Ralee Engineering Company, 78 Cal. Rptr.
2 d 16 (Cal. 1998), web > web > Tameny v, Atlantic Richfield Company, 27 Cal. 3 d 167 (Cal. 1980), web > Gantt v.
Sentry Insurance, 1 Cal. 4 th 1083 (Cal. 1992), web.