Reninger v. Department of Corrections

In Reninger v. Department of Corrections, 134 Wn.2d 437, 445, 951 P.2d 782 (1998), two prison guards resigned after being demoted and reassigned to positions they felt were unreasonably dangerous. Although they had several statutory remedies available to them, they did not challenge their reassignments under the Industrial Safety and Health Act (RCW 49.17) or civil service laws. They did appeal their dismissals to the PAB, which denied their appeal and found they had been fired for gross misconduct. Id. at 443. The Court affirmed the Court of Appeals, finding the decision of the PAB had collateral estoppel effect in the superior court proceeding for wrongful constructive discharge. Id. at 454. Under Reninger, an employee who loses in an administrative proceeding will be collaterally estopped from attempting to prove the distinct tort of wrongful discharge in violation of public policy.