Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
Supreme Court of Oklahoma
February 7, 1989, Filed
[*P1] [**25] A terminable-at-will employee brought an action in contract and tort against her employer for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing in her employment contract. Both causes of action were brought in reliance on this Court's recent decision in Hall v. Farmers Insurance Exchange, 713 P.2d 1027 (Okla. 1985). The employee argued the employer's agents harassed her, prevented her from performing her duties and by so doing constructively discharged her from her job. She further asserts that the employer's agent told her he would not recommend her for promotion because of her sex. She seeks lost wages, damages for alleged injury to her reputation and punitive damages for breach of the implied covenant.
[*P2] The employer denied the purported existence of a claim in tort for a breach [***3] of an implied covenant of good faith, and also asserted the contract action did not exist because the employee's termination resulted in no violation of the employee's constitutional rights.
[*P3] The United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma certified for this Court's answer pursuant to the Uniform Certification of Questions of Law Act, 20 O.S. 1981 §§ 1601 through 1612, six questions of law:
1. In Oklahoma, is there an implied obligation of good faith and fair dealing in reference to termination in every employment-at-will contract?
2. Is the implied obligation of good faith mutual between the employer and employee?
3. Does the breach of such implied obligation, assuming there is one, sound in contract and/or tort?
4. If the answer to question No. 3 is "contract", what are the recoverable damages for breach of the implied covenant?
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
1989 OK 22 *; 770 P.2d 24 **; 1989 Okla. LEXIS 17 ***; 4 I.E.R. Cas. (BNA) 182; 113 Lab. Cas. (CCH) P56,100
Helen Jenean BURK, Plaintiff, v. K-MART CORPORATION, Defendant
Prior History: [***1] Certified Questions from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma, Honorable Thomas R. Brett, Presiding. Terminable-at-will employee brought a contract and tort action against her employer for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. The United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma, Thomas Brett, Judge, certified for this Court's answer six questions of law.
Disposition: CERTIFIED QUESTIONS ANSWERED.
public policy, termination, at-will, fair dealing, employment-at-will, bad faith, public policy exception, good faith, covenant, clear mandate, damages, employment contract, implied covenant, contractual, courts, wrongful discharge, terminable-at-will, remedies, implied covenant of good faith, new cause of action, punitive damages, pronouncement, contracts, questions, implied obligation, contract action, discharged
Labor & Employment Law, Employment Relationships, Employment Contracts, Breaches, At Will Employment, General Overview, Duration of Employment, Wrongful Termination, Breach of Contract, For Cause Standard, Business & Corporate Compliance, Contracts Law, Types of Contracts, Covenants, Contracts Law, Contract Interpretation, Good Faith & Fair Dealing, Exceptions, Tort Exceptions, Public Policy Violations, Public Policy