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Ariz. Const. art. 2, § 8 is not intended to give rise to a private cause of action between private individuals, but is intended as a prohibition on the state and has the same effect as the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. Also, the provision does not restrict any private individual's actions, and it does not provide a clear mandate of public policy to support a cause of action for wrongful termination by a private individual. Thus, summary judgment is granted under the same standard as a directed verdict or a judgment notwithstanding the verdict.
Appellants Dora Hart, Dale Hart and Jeff Ernst, were three former at-will employees of appellee Temple Bar Resort. All of appellee’s employees were provided a Personnel Policy Manual stating that employment relationships were at-will and terminable by either party with or without cause or advance notice, at any time. The manual further stated defendant’s drug policy, prohibiting the use, possession, sale or distribution of any illegal drugs by employees while on company property. The manual provided that non-compliance on such acts shall result in immediate termination. The drug policy announced in the manual specified when employees were subject to drug testing. Appellant Ernst signed a form acknowledging that he received a copy of the manual; appellant Harts signed a form acknowledging that they were expected to read, understand and adhere to the manual's provisions. In addition to the drug policy announced in the manual, appellee issued a "Drug Free Workplace Policy Statement and Employee Agreement" to its employees. Under the drug-free agreement, general managers could ask an employee to take a drug test at any time. Violation of the testing policy or a failure to cooperate fully with a request for a test could result in disciplinary action, including termination. Again, appellants each signed said agreement acknowledging that they had read, understood and agreed to the policy. Appellants were terminated from their employment when they refused to take drug tests. They later filed a complaint against appellee asserting causes of action for wrongful termination, breach of contract and promissory estoppel, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, intentional infliction of emotional distress, invasion of privacy, and false imprisonment. Appellants asserted that they were fired in violation of their constitutional right to privacy for their failure to submit to drug testing. After discovery, appellee filed a motion for summary judgment which the court granted summary judgment on all counts but denied its motion for attorneys' fees under A.R.S. § 12-341.01(A); defendant cross-appealed the denial. On the other, appellants sought review of the order granting the summary judgment.
Was the court’s decision granting summary judgment in favor of appellee employer in the action for wrongful termination filed by appellant proper?
The court affirmed the trial court's grant of summary judgment on all counts. The court ruled that summary judgment was proper on all the appellants claims. The court found that Ariz. Const. art. 2, § 8 did not restrict any private individual's actions and it did not provide a cause of action for wrongful termination by private individuals. The court held that appellants status as at-will employees was not turned into employment for definite terms because the personnel manual plainly stated that their jobs were terminable at the will of the appellee employer with or without reason. Thus, appellants could not claim breach of contract without a contract for a definite term. The court further ruled that the allegations of inconvenience did not establish the tort of intrusion upon seclusion. Also, the tort of false light was not proven because appellants did not allege publication by appellee. Lastly, there was no false imprisonment because appellants did not allege physical threats, abuse, or intimidation and their fear of losing their jobs was insufficient to constitute a threat. However, the case was remanded on the issue of the appropriateness of an award of attorneys' fees in the trial court.