Bushko v. Miller Brewing Co

In Bushko v. Miller Brewing Co., 134 Wis. 2d 136, 138, 396 N.W.2d 167 (1986), the plaintiff, an employee of Miller Brewing Company, claimed that Miller fired him for complaining "about Miller's policies in three areas-plant safety, hazardous wastes and 'honesty.'" The trial court granted summary judgment to Miller Brewing, but we reversed in an unpublished decision, concluding, inter alia, that terminating an employee-even an at-will employee-for exercising free speech in support of employee safety contravened public policy as declared in Brockmeyer v. Dun & Bradstreet, See Bushko, 134 Wis. 2d at 140. The supreme court reversed. Additionally, the supreme court explained that "the court of appeals incorrectly made the employer's intent in the discharge a material fact in stating why the motion for summary judgment should not have been granted." Id. at 141. In Bushko, the supreme court concluded that, under Brockmeyer, in order to survive summary judgment, an employee must "allege and attest that he was discharged for refusing to violate a constitutional or statutory provision." Id. The Court clarified that in order to maintain a claim under the public policy exception, the discharge must result from an employee's "refusing a command to violate a public policy as established by a statutory or constitutional provision." Id. at 141. Additionally, the Bushko court recognized that the public policy exception had effectively been extended "to include the spirit, as well as the clear language of a statutory provision." Id. at 143.