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Geary v. United States Steel Corp. - 456 Pa. 171, 319 A.2d 174 (1974)

Rule:

Where the complaint itself discloses a plausible and legitimate reason for terminating an at-will employment relationship and no clear mandate of public policy is violated thereby, an employee at will has no right of action against his employer for wrongful discharge.

Facts:

Appellant employee sued appellee former employer for alleged wrongful termination of an at-will employment relationship. The former employee alleged that he was wrongfully discharged after expressing concerns about the safety of one of the employer's products. The trial court dismissed the complaint with prejudice and the decision was affirmed by the appellate court. The employee appealed.

Issue:

Did the employee state a cause of action for wrongful termination of his at-will employment relationship?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

The court affirmed the ruling of the lower court. Either party had the right to terminate the employment relationship for any or no reason, absent any contrary statutory or contractual provision. The facts alleged in the employee's complaint, demonstrating a dispute over the merits of the employer's new product and the employee's ultimate discharge did not show any violation of law or public policy by the employer. The court held that there was no cause of action for wrongful discharge by an employee at will where the complaint disclosed a legitimate reason for his termination and no law or public policy was violated thereby.

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