Allen v. Safeway Stores, Inc – Case Brief Summary (Wyoming)

In Allen v. Safeway Stores, Inc., 699 P.2d 277 (Wyo. 1985), the Court made it clear that if another remedy for violation of a social policy which resulted in the discharge of an employee exists, no separate court action will lie.

Therein, the Court stated:

A tort action premised on violation of public policy results from a recognition that allowing a discharge to go unredressed would leave a valuable social policy to go unvindicated. If there exists another remedy for violation of the social policy which resulted in the discharge of the employee, there is no need for a court-imposed separate tort action premised on public policy. Viestenz v. Fleming Companies, Inc., 681 F.2d 699 (10th Cir. 1982), cert. denied 459 U.S. 972, 103 S. Ct. 303, 74 L. Ed. 2d 284; Mahoney v. Crocker National Bank, 571 F. Supp. 287, (D. C. Cal. 1983). As said in Wehr v. Burroughs Corporation, 438 F. Supp. 1052, 1055 (D. C. Pa. 1977):

"It is clear then that the whole rationale undergirding the public policy exception is the vindication or the protection of certain strong policies of the community. If these policies or goals are preserved by other remedies, then the public policy is sufficiently served. Therefore, application of the public policy exception requires two factors: (1) that the discharge violate some well-established public policy; and (2) that there be no remedy to protect the interest of the aggrieved employee or society."

The Wyoming Fair Employment Practices Act of 1965, § 27-9-101 et seq., W.S. 1977 (June 1983 Replacement), and 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (1982) provide appellants with a remedy for discharge based on sex discrimination.

As noted in Rompf v. John Q. Hammons Hotels, Inc., 685 P.2d 25 (Wyo. 1984), we restricted our holding to the parameters of that case. We do likewise here. Counsel cite cases in which tort actions premised on violations of public policies have been upheld; e. g., Nees v. Hocks, 272 Or. 210, 536 P.2d 512 (1975), discharge for serving on a jury; Hansen v. Harrah's, Nev., 100 Nev. 60, 675 P.2d 394 (1984); Frampton v. Central Indiana Gas Company, 260 Ind. 249, 297 N.E.2d 425, 63 A.L.R. 3d 973 (1973), and Murphy v. City of Topeka-Shawnee County Department of Labor Services, 6 Kan. App. 2d 488, 630 P.2d 186 (1981), discharge in retaliation for filing worker's compensation claims. Such cases are not similar to this case. The complaint in this case does not state a tort claim upon which relief could be granted against Safeway and Rock based on appellants' discharges from employment.

(Allen, 699 P.2d at 284.)

In Allen, the Allens argued that even though their employment was "at will," their discharge was in violation of public policy and, therefore, they could assert a tort claim for damages.

The Court concluded that both the Wyoming Fair Employment Practices Act (FEPA), Wyo. Stat. §§ 27-9-101 et seq., and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C.A. 2000e et seq., provided the Allens with a remedy for discrimination on the basis of sex.