The Missouri Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of a Honda dealership in response to a wrongful-discharge lawsuit brought by a former sales manager.
The dealership had a policy that employees and members of their household were prohibited from buying a new Honda from another Honda dealer without first giving it a chance to match the competitor’s price. The sales manager’s live-in girlfriend purchased a vehicle from a different Honda dealer. When the purchase was discovered, the sales manager was terminated from the car dealership.
The sales manager sued under the “public policy exception” to the at-will employment doctrine.
The exception establishes a cause of action for at-will employees who have been discharged in violation of a clear mandate or public policy reflected “in the letter and purpose of a constitutional, statutory, or regulatory provision or scheme, in the judicial decisions of state and federal courts, in the constant practice of government officials, and, in certain instances, in professional codes of ethics.”
Here, the sales manager alleged that his discharge violated a clear public policy of allowing citizens to freely conduct business and that by patronizing his employer’s competitor for a better price in purchasing a Honda, he and his live-in girlfriend acted in accordance with a public policy that Missouri encourages.
However, the Missouri Court of Appeals disagreed. It held that none of the statutory authority cited by the former sales manager represented a clear mandate of public policy that clearly encourages the act of buying a vehicle at the best price one could find, regardless of the consequences that decision brings.
A complete copy of the opinion can be found here.