False Voluntary Termination In Arizona
In order for a plaintiff to recover punitive damages, it is usually not enough to show that the defendant committed a tort; the plaintiff ordinarily must show "something more." Rawlings v. Apodaca, 151 Ariz. 149, 161, 726 P.2d 565, 577 (1986).
Courts consider "the nature of the defendant's conduct, including the reprehensibility of the conduct and the severity of the harm likely to result, as well as the harm that has occurred,. . . the duration of the misconduct, the degree of defendant's awareness of the harm or risk of harm, and any concealment of it." Id. (quoting Hawkins v. Allstate Ins. Co., 152 Ariz. 490, 497, 733 P.2d 1073, 1080).
Punitive damages may rest on an aggregation of several pieces of evidence. See id. at 558, 832 P.2d at 211.
The Arizona Supreme Court applied this standard in Thompson v. Better-Bilt Aluminum Products Co., in which it found a deliberate policy of discharging workers who filed workers' compensation claims. 171 Ariz. at 559, 832 P.2d at 212.
The company effectuated this practice by writing up false "voluntary" terminations and withholding notice of these terminations from employees, all indicating the employer's knowledge that its actions were wrong and harmful.